Barcelona To Kick Off Champions League Campaign On The Back Of Alaves Defeat
FC Barcelona need to dust themselves down from their shock defeat at home to newly promoted Alaves on Saturday night as they prepare to make their debut in this season’s Champions League at home to Glasgow Celtic.
The Scottish champions can expect to be followed by thousands of fans with their morale sky high after beating bitter city rivals, Rangers 5-1 at the weekend, meanwhile in the Camp Nou it is a moment to re-asses matter in the wake of Saturday’s defeat.
Luis Enrique rested 8 first team regulars at the weekend and saw how his substitutes failed to live up to expectations in a static performance filled with defensive lapses.
Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Luis Suarez, Samuel Umtiti and Jordi Alba can all expect to start on Tuesday for Barcelona and Leo Messi will also be in the side, despite continued worries about a groin injury.
The Argentinean, along with Suarez and Iniesta, came on as a substitute on Saturday and showed no signs of the problem which forced him out of international duty, but the club is aware that it is a problem that needs as much rest as possible.
Tuesday would be the first time Messi, Suarez, Neymar trio start this season for Barcelona and Celtic will have to beware given that they have scored a staggering total of 260 goals between then in the 69 matches they have begun together.
Meanwhile Jasper Cillessen will continue in goal as a result of Ter Stegen’s muscle injury, and will hope for better luck than at the weekend, when Alaves scored two of their three shots on target.
The keeper was blameless in the defeat, but no goalkeeper likes to lose a game without being able to make an important save, although he will hope for a quiet night in a game which could show whether Saturday’s defeat was merely a blip or the symptom of something more serious.
Elsewhere Atletico Madrid have no problems as they travel for their important game away to PSV Eindhoven. Atletico and striker Antoine Griezmann were back to their best in a 4-0 win in Vigo on Saturday and will hope to carry on that form against one of the toughest rivals in their qualifying group.