Barcelona will face off against Premier League heavyweights Tottenham Hotspur in their final Group B game of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.
Barcelona will welcome Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspur side to Camp Nou on Tuesday night, for their final group fixture of the UEFA Champions League.
The Blaugrana have already achieved qualification to the knockout stages of the competition and are confirmed to finish at the top of the group, following their 2-1 win over Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven last month.
Coming into the game on the back of a resounding 4-0 win over derby rivals Espanyol in La Liga this past weekend, Ernesto Valverde’s men will be aiming to keep their undefeated run in Europe intact on Tuesday.
Tottenham Hotspur, on the other hand, are yet to secure progression to the next round of the Champions League. Currently stationed second in the table, level on points with third-placed Inter Milan, but ahead due to a better head-to-head record, the Lilywhites must at least match the Serie A side’s result in order to advance further in the tournament.
Spurs defeated Leicester City 2-0 last time they were in action on Saturday night and have won eight of their last nine games in all competitions. Having been beaten 4-2 by Barcelona in the reverse fixture earlier this term, Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping to avoid a similar fate and bag a victory to stay in the Champions League.
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Valverde hinted that he is going to rotate his players for the midweek encounter, with the Catalans having already won the Group B. Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, Malcom, Rafinha and Sergi Samper have all been ruled out with injuries.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen is guaranteed to feature between the sticks for Barcelona, with Nelson Semedo expected to continue as the right-back in Roberto’s absence, while Jordi Alba should feature on the left side. Gerard Pique is also a certain starter at the back, and will be paired up with Clement Lenglet.
Summer signing Arthur Melo is fit again and should return to the starting lineup, after having missed the last few games for the Blaugrana. Sergio Busquets is in line to feature at the base of the midfield against the North Londoners. Philippe Coutinho should return to the side to complete the midfield trio for the Catalans, after having not started in the derby.
The forward line is in for major tweaks as both Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are set to be given a breather by the manager. Munir El Haddadi is in contention to start as the centre-forward, flanked on either sides by Ousmane Dembele and Denis Suarez, who had grabbed a double in Barca’s cup game against Cultural Leonesa last time he featured.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Arthur, Busquets, Coutinho; Dembele, El Haddadi, Denis Suarez;
Tottenham have a spate of injury problems heading into the all-important clash on Tuesday night. Defenders Davinson Sanchez, Kieran Trippier and Serge Aurier have all been ruled out of the tie, along with Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama.
Juan Foyth is not part of Spurs’ Champions League squad and hence will be unavailable. Fellow Argentine Erik Lamela will be available, however, having recovered from a thigh injury. Having rested a few of his stars for the win against Leicester, Pochettino is expected to field his strongest possible XI as he looks to conquer Camp Nou and seal qualification to the knockouts.
Club captain Hugo Lloris is a certainty to feature under the woodwork for the Lilywhites on Tuesday night. In the absence of both Aurier and Trippier, academy graduate Kyle Walker-Peters is set to man the right-back slot, with Danny Rose likely to come in on the opposite flank in place of Ben Davies. Belgian duo Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen will line up at the centre of the backline.
Eric Dier will occupy one of the two pivot positions in the middle of the park and is likely to be partnered up with academy product Harry Winks, ahead of Frenchman Moussa Sissoko. Dele Alli will occupy the No.10 slot for the visitors, as they look to dismantle the Barcelona defence.
Christian Eriksen, who missed the game against Leicester, is set for a start on the right, with in-form man Son Heung-Min featuring on the left. Spearheading the attack for Tottenham will be superstar Harry Kane, who did not start against Leicester at the weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lloris; Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Dier, Winks; Eriksen, Alli, Son; Kane;
- Barcelona are unbeaten in their previous three meetings with Tottenham Hotspur in all competitions, winning the last two. They defeated Spurs 4-2 at Wembley Stadium on match-day two this season.
- The Blaugrana have lost just one of their last 12 Champions League meetings with English clubs (W9 D2 L1), with that defeat coming in November 2016 at Manchester City (1-3).
- Matchday six is the only matchday in the Champions League group stages Tottenham have never lost on, winning two and drawing one of their three games.
- Barcelona have won their Champions League group for the 12th consecutive season. However, the winner of Group B has only won the Champions League once (Real Madrid in 2013-14).
- Tottenham are winless away from home in the Champions League this season (D1 L1) – they have won at least two away points in every previous Champions League group stage.
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Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
The 25-year-old England captain has established himself as one of the most potent forwards in the game currently. Kane, this term, has already bagged 13 goals from 21 matches in all competitions – four of which have come in his five UCL matches, including one against Barcelona in the reverse fixture at Wembley.
Pochettino opted to leave his superstar out of the starting XI against Leicester in order to keep him fresh for arguably Spurs’ biggest game of the season till date. Coming into the match, Kane has scored seven goals in his seven Champions League away games. And he will once again need to be firing on all cylinders, if Tottenham are to make it through to the next round.
Barcelona 2-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 28 home Champions League games (W26 D2). During that run, the Spanish champions have scored a whopping 87 goals and conceded just 13 times – never more than one goal in a match. While they are likely to make some alterations to the playing XI, they will still be a hard nut to crack in front of their home support.
Tottenham, on the other hand, have been in fine form since they were thrashed at home by the Catalans in October. In their 13 fixtures in all competitions post that match, Spurs have been on the losing side just two times (W10, D1). And given what is at stake for them, they will come all guns blazing against the Catalans on Tuesday night.
It promises to be an entertaining contest between the two teams at Camp Nou. Tottenham will be pressing hard for a victory, but Barcelona, despite the likelihood of both Messi and Suarez not featuring, should have enough in the tank to maintain their unbeaten record in the group stages, with a high-scoring draw on the cards on Tuesday.