BARCELONA, Sept 26: Barcelona has beaten everyone it played since the new season of La Liga has started, and to add a cherry to the top of the cake, it defeated Juventus in the first match of the UEFA Champions League Group D encounter on September 13.
Now, it has to face Sporting in the second matchday of the UCL in Estadio Jose Alvalade, to extend its winning run to eight games in all competitions this season. After defeating Juventus on the first matchday, it very much wants to make six points on board and stay at the summit for another two weeks or so.
Barcelona defeated its Catalan neighbour Girona on Saturday in which was a frustrating match judging by the performance of Barcelona. Girona scored two own goals, and succumbed to a Luis Suarez’s strike, but showed real determination that it can stay yet another year in the Spanish top flight, given its fighting spirit that it showed against Barcelona.
But, it’s a whole new story here at the Champions League encounter. Barcelona travel to the Portuguese capital on Wednesday, to win yet another match, but also to keep on ‘not conceding goals’ which happened as exepected against Real Betis, Alaves, Espanyol and Juventus. Barcelona in its fifth match of the season in all competitions, conceded the first goal of the match, but scoring two more to defeat Getafe 1-2.
Likewise, Sporting has had a similar, not yet same campaign as of Barcelona in its league run this season. Having won six games and drawing one, Sporting is second with 19 points and just two below Porto, who lost its first Champions League match to Besiktas this season. While on the other hand, Sporting defeated Olympiacos 2-3 in Greece and is second in the Group D table.
Nelson Semedo and Gerard Deulofeu have made their way back to Barcelona squad, after missing the Girona match. Barca B goalkeeper Adrian Ortola has made to the squad for the first time in his career as there is some room for the youth shot stopper as well, while Paco Alcacer still misses yet another game despite coming out of injury.
Rafinha, Ousmane Dembele, Arda Turan are rested with their respective injuries, while Thomas Vermaelen still doesn’t make his way to the side. Ter Stegen and Jasper Cillessen are also included with Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, who didn’t play a single minute against Girona, while Jordi Alba and Javier Mascherano are selected as well.
Rakitic, Paulinho, Andres Iniesta and Aleix Vidal are also called up despite playing for over 65 minutes in the last game, while Sergio Busquets, Denis Suárez and Andres Gomes, who were in the substitution list make the squad again.
Lionel Messi and off-form Luis Suarez, of course, are included having played full 90 minutes with Sergi Roberto and Lucas Digne also included.
While for Sporting, Adrien Silva is out with a broken rib. Goalkeeper Rui Patricio and defenders Sebastian Coates and former Barcelona player Jeremy Mathieu along with Fabio Coentrao and Cristiano Piccini are set to get included for the clash, despite featuring full 90 minutes in a 1-1 draw against Moreirense on Saturday.
Midfielders William Carvalho, Gelson Martins and forward Bas Dost may as well start again, while forward Alan Ruiz and midfielders Bruno Cesar and Bruno Fernandes can get a callup for some game time.
Barcelona has faced Sporting two times in the past and have emerged victorious in both the occasions.
Both the match was in 2008-09 season. In the first match of the group C clash, Barcelona defeated Sporting 3-1 with Marquez, Eto’o and Xavi scoring for the home side, while Tonel for Sporting.
In the fifth match, Barcelona swept away Sporting 2-5 in Lisbon, with Henry, Pique, Messi and Bojan scoring for Barcelona including an own goal from Caneira, while Veloso and Liedson scoring for Sporting.
Barcelona would want to win this affair, but it has to be lethal in front of 50,046 spectators in Lisbon. Lionel Messi didn’t score in the last match against Girona, but he will surely like to his tally of 96 Champions League goals this time around.
Sporting’s Mathieu has said he will celebrate if he scores a goal against his former team, but it will hard for him given the form Barcelona are in. So, both the teams want to get those two consecutive wins in the Champions League, but there is still much to do.