When and Where: The UEFA Champions League Group G match begins at 2:45pm ET Wednesday at the Camp Nou. Coverage will be provided by the Fox Soccer Channel, with a live stream available via FoxSoccer2Go.
Preview: Barcelona begins their quest for a fifth Champions League cup against Spartak Moscow.
Catalans head coach Tito Vilanova will manage his first Champions League match, and he clearly understands how vital success is to his club.
"The Champions League is the biggest competition alongside the league and we know that the first home game is crucial,” Vilanova said. “The Champions League is a competition that motivates players especially. Spartak are a dynamic team who attack well on the break and will certainly cause us a lot of problems."
Barcelona hopes to continue their recent run in the major tournament, as they’ve captured three of the last seven titles, and reached the semifinals in five consecutive seasons.
The Catalans have also won their group 13 times since 1992, which is one more than rival Real Madrid and the Premier League’s Manchester United.
Star striker Lionel Messi will start after coming off the bench in Barcelona’s 4-1 drubbing of Getafe Saturday in La Liga play. Messi scored twice in the rout, and Barcelona looked in top form throughout the match.
Spartak reached the semifinals once in 1991, losing to Marseille when the tournament was still called the European Cup. They have appeared in the tournament 11 times, which is more than any other Russian club.
Barcelona has several injuries to their lineup, most notably Carles Puyol, who sustained a knee injury and will be out for six weeks. Alexis Sanchez is doubtful, Andres Iniesta is still out, and left back Jordi Alba is battling a virus.
Spartak manger Unai Emery’s side will miss Demy de Zeeuw, who is currently serving a one-game ban, and defender Nicolas Pareja, striker Welliton and captain Sergei Parshivlyuk are suffering from injuries.
Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano
Xavi, Busquests, Fabregas,
Pedro, Messi, Villa
Kombarov, Insaurralde, Suchy, Kombarov
MdGeady, Ari, Bil’yov
Prediction: The Catalans have several injuries to worry about, but with Messi more than likely playing the full match, and David Villa returning to his old scoring ways, Barcelona should walk away with a victory.
Predicted Score: Barcelona 2, Spartak Moscow 0