When and where: The Champions League Group G match kicks-off from the Camp Nou at 2.45 p.m. ET. A live stream will be available via FoxSoccer2Go.
Preview: Barcelona begin their quest to regain their crown as champions of Europe with a home tie against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday. While no side has amassed the experience and success in the Champions League of Barcelona in recent years, Tito Vilanova will be making his bow in the competition as the main man in the dugout.
All signs so far suggest that Vilanova will provide a seamless transition from the club’s glory-laden four years under his predecessor Pep Guardiola. Barca have won each of their four La Liga games to begin the campaign and have already established an eight-point lead over rivals Real Madrid.
Despite having progressed with comfort from the group phase in recent years, Vilanova is taking nothing for granted.
“The first match at home is very important,” he said in the pre-match press conference, according to the Barcelona Web site. “We won’t be trailing behind the other teams in the group if we win. Barca has been comfortable in the Champions League in recent years, but we know that it’s a very difficult competition.”
On the opposite bench to Vilanova at the Camp Nou on Wednesday will be a familiar face in former Valencia manager Unai Emery. His Spartak team do not go into the match having not tasted victory in four games, since their first leg victory in the Champions League playoffs against Fenerbahce. Emery’s side have dropped to seventh in the Russian Premier League after eight games.
The Spanish manager certainly has quality at his disposal, though. Highly-rated Brazilian defensive midfielder Romulo is a recent signing from Vaso da Gama and should line up against talented Swede Kim Kallstrom. Out wide is likely to be former Everton midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Ireland international Aiden McGeady.
For Barcelona, Vilanova is likely to bring Lionel Messi back into the starting lineup after he only appeared from the bench in Saturday’s victory at Getafe.
D: Alves, Puyol, Pique, Adriano
M: Xavi, Busquets, Fabregas
F: Pedro, Messi, Villa
Spartak Moscow (probable)
D: K. Kombarov, Insaurralde, Suchy, D. Kombarov
M: Romulo, Kallstrom
McGeady, Ari, Bilyaletdniov
Prediction: Barcelona’s home record in the Champions League has been dominating in recent seasons, having not suffered defeat in 14 matches dating back to 2009. With Spartak on a poor run of form, there is little suggest the Russian side should pose any undue problems.
Barcelona 3-0 Spartak Moscow