Spartak v Barcelona preview
Mon, 19 Nov 2012 18:40:00
Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova admits his side cannot expect to have any element of surprise in their favour when they take on Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Champions League.
Barca may be one of the most famous teams in the world but Vilanova felt the Catalan giants could still rely on a certain amount of mystery when they played in Europe - but not this week.
The main reason for that is Unai Emery, Spartak's Spanish coach who previously spent five years battling in the Primera Division against all-conquering Barca, first with Almeria and then at Valencia.
"Normally the advantage we have in Europe is that they don't know us as well as they do in La Liga, but in this case against Spartak that advantage disappears," said Vilanova.
Barcelona will welcome back Sergio Busquets for the Group G game after he missed the recent double-header against Celtic due to suspension following his sending off during the victory over Benfica last month.
He has travelled to Russia along with Carles Puyol, with the experienced defender now back to fitness after an elbow injury.
However, fellow defender Marc Bartra is out for at least a fortnight, so Sergi Roberto and Gerard Deulofeu have been added to the squad by coach Vilanova.
Since beating Spartak at home, Barca have moved on to nine points in Group G, two clear of second-placed Celtic who they lost 2-1 to in the previous round.
Spartak prop up the group with three points but can still claim a top-two berth if results go their way over the final two rounds.
"The defeat in Glasgow has complicated things for the Catalans. It's going to be a tough game (on Tuesday). In any case, our mission is to win," said Emery
"We will go out with this idea. We will try to take advantage of the chances that we'll have in the game."
Emery has a number of absentees for the clash at the Luzhniki stadium, with Romulo, Artem Rebrov, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Soslan Gatagov, Nicolas Pareja, Aiden McGeady and Artem Dzyuba all set to be missing.