Barcelona will again try to secure progress for the Champions League knockout phase when they travel to face Spartak Moscow on Tuesday. The Catalan giants suffered a shock 2-1 defeat at the hands of Celtic two weeks ago but can qualify by avoid defeat at the Luzhniki Stadium.
When the two sides met in the opening round of fixtures, Spartak gave Barcelona a real scare at the Camp Nou—leading 2-1 in the second half before two goals from Lionel Messi secured a win for the home side. Unsurprisingly, Barcelona is taking nothing for granted in Moscow.
“Yes, Russian teams have made it difficult for us in the past,” he said, according to Barcelona’s website.
“These days you can’t beat anyone easily in the Champions League,” he added.
Vilanova will be coming up against a manger that he knows well from his time in Spain—former Valencia boss Unai Emery.
Spartak are in desperate need of the points on Tuesday as they currently sit bottom of Group G on three points. However, Emery is forced to go into the contest with a host of players unavailable.
“In recent times we have gone through a bad spell with injuries piling up but we have to deal with this,” Emery said, according to Uefa’s website. “We still have a pre-match training session ahead of us and our starting lineup will not be so bad but we know we will be without Artem Dzyuba and Aiden McGeady.”
Among the other names out are suspended defender Nicolas Pareja and long-term injury victim Romulo.
It is a different story for the visitors, whose injury list has been shortening. Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique returned to the heart of the defense at the weekend and should line up again in Moscow.
D: Makeev, Bryzgalov, Suchy, Kombarov
M: Rafael, Kallstrom
Jurado, Ari, Gorbatenko
D: Alves, Puyol, Pique, Alba
M: Fabregas, Iniesta, Xavi
F: Pedro, Messi, Villa
Prediction: Despite the trickiness of travelling to Moscow and playing on a synthetic pitch, Spartak’s injury crisis makes Barcelona big favorites to pick up the three points. With their defense back to full strength, Barcelona should not require the same drama as their comeback in the Camp Nou on match day one.
Spartak Moscow 1-3 Barcelona
Where to watch: The Champions League match kicks-off at noon ET. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel with a live stream available via FoxSoccer2Go.