Tuesday, October 20th, 19:45 GMT .
FC Barcelona travel to Belarus to take on the league champions BATE Borisov in the third UEFA Champions League tie, hoping to avoid an upset with the Belarus champions having nothing to lose.
The Belarus side will be hoping to cause an upset to the current European Champions to celebrate their 10th Belarus Championship in a row.
BATE Borisov Team News & Tactics
BATE manager Aleksandr Yermakovich was in-charge of the club when they last faced the Catalans in the UEFA Champions League, falling to two 5-0 and 4-0 defeats over two games in the group stage.
Vowing not to repeat the mistakes of his past, the Belarusian has said that his side need to play as a team if they are to have any chance of getting something out of the game.
BATE sit just one point off leaders FC Barcelona, having surprised AS Roma with a 3-2 win at home last matchday.
The Belarus champions are expected to be without Vitali Rodionov and Maksim Zhavnerchik, and are likely to name a line-up in 4-2-3-1 formation.
Goalkeeper Chernik will be given that task to stop the onslaught from the Barcelona midfield and attack, with Dubra and Milunovic in central defence hoping to reduce the pressure on the goalkeeper.
Mladenovic and Polyakov will be deployed in fullback positions and are unlikely to venture forward much given the wave after wave the Catalan’s wing-backs and wide-forwards are expected to launch.
The defence will be protected by two holding midfielders in Yablonksi and Nikolic, with Volodko, Stasevich and Gordeychuk playing furthest forward in midfield.
Signevich will be the loan forward up-front and will be mostly feeding off scraps, with the whole of Belarus hoping he takes his chances if any falls his way.
BATE Borisov Predicted XI: Chernik, Mladenovic, Polyakov, Dubra, Milunovic, Yablonski, Nikolic, Volodko, Stasevich, Gordeychuk, Signevich
FC Barcelona Team News & Tactics
Barcelona travel to Belarus knowing that nothing but a win will be acceptable. Having narrowly beaten Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 at home, while only managing a draw against AS Roma in Rome on the opening group stage game of their Champions League group, the Catalans must take the opportunity to seize the control of the group.
Barcelona are still without star forward Lionel Messi (knee) and midfielder Andres Iniesta (hamstring), with Rafina Alacantra also out with a long-term injury.
Barca B defensive midfielder Gerard Gambau is included in the 20-man squad and may get his chance off the bench with little or no option to rotate in the midfield for Luis Enrique.
Luis Suarez, Neymar and Munir are likely to start up front in the absence of the talismanic Argentinian, with Sandro likely to be rested following the start at the weekend.
The midfield is likely to be made up by Sergi Roberto, Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets, although expect Enrique to take them off at some point.
German Marc Andre Ter-Stagen is expected to return in the goal in place of Claudio Bravo, with Dani Alves and Jordi Alba likely to be deployed in the wing-back positions. Vermaelen or Mathieu may get to play in the wide defensive positions in case Enrique decides to rotate the squad.
Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano, otherwise, are expected to continue in the central defensive roles as the Catalans look to solidify their defence which as leaked over 22 goals in 13 games, with just two clean sheets across all competitions.
FC Barcelona Predicted XI: Ter-Stagen, Alves, Alba, Pique, Mascherano, Busquets, Rakitic, Roberto, Munir, Neymar, Suarez
Man To Watch: Neymar Jr.
The Brazil star scored 4 and assisted a 5th in Barcelona’s 5-2 win over Rayo Vallecano at the weekend. The forward has taken upon himself to fill the void left behind due to injury to Lionel Messi. Neymar will be the man BATE Borisov will have to keep an eye on the most if they are to have any chance of getting something out of the game.
- Barcelona scored nine goals past BATE when the clubs met in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage
- Barcelona have won 11 of their last 13 matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers).
- BATE have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 3 matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers).
Prediction: BATE Borisov 0-4 FC Barcelona
While BATE may have pulled off a great win over AS Roma, FC Barcelona have far too much quality in their side, despite missing several key players, to win the game easily in Belarus.