Pep talks up BATE ahead of UCL meeting

BY foxsports • September 28, 2011

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola insists he has "great respect" for BATE Borisov and is refusing to take three points for granted when the teams meet in Belarus on Wednesday night.

Barca was held to a 2-2 draw by AC Milan two weeks ago, Thiago Silva's stoppage-time equaliser denying the defending champion a winning start to their Group H campaign.

A win on Wednesday will be the minimum expected of Guardiola's galaxy of stars, but the coach is adamant that he will not allow his players to become complacent against a side that has won their national league in each of the last five years - and is well placed to make it six this season.

BATE also enjoys a good European pedigree having reached the group stage of the Champions League in the 2008/09 season, and the knockout stage of last season's Europa League - and Guardiola is expecting a tricky contest on Wednesday.

"It is not their first time playing in the Champions League so they have already experienced in this type of competition," said Guardiola. "This is a group that is accustomed to winning, well prepared, with potential, and last year it was a surprise.

"They are tough physically, dangerous in the air, and we will attack very orderly, which is the goal we always have.

"We will try know where are our spaces our, be patient and be very aware of what we're playing."

Barca will be without Andres Iniesta, Ibrahim Afellay and Alexis Sanchez through injury, but its 20-man squad - 18 fit first-team players plus Isaac Cuenca and Jonathan dos Santos from the reserves - touched down in Minsk on Tuesday lunchtime buoyed by Saturday's 5-0 thrashing of Atletico Madrid.

BATE head coach Viktor Goncharenko knows his side will have its hands full trying to stop Argentina forward Lionel Messi, who has netted eight goals in Barca's five Primera Division games this season.

But he has told his team not to be so in awe of their visitors that they forget about their own strengths.

"Of course, you must have a plan A and plan B," Goncharenko was quoted as saying at a press conference on Monday. "Clearly, we may be required to change our game. Against Barcelona, that is difficult to do.

"On the other hand, if you think about the complexities, you will not see the possibilities.

"And if we try to change the original plan, then open new opportunities for themselves.

"The lesson we get tomorrow will undoubtedly help us in the future.

"Afterwards, we will fully analyse the game. Barcelona are an example to follow. We all need to use this to make another step forward."

He added: "We have had 10 days working on how to defend and attack in this match. This is a great distraction from the national championship."

Forward Vitali Rodionov and defender Yawhen Kuntsevich remain out injured, while Alyaksandr Pawlaw is continuing his individual training programme, but striker Mateja Kezman should be available for the hosts after a knee problem.

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