Expect to see plenty of celebrating from Messi and Co. on Tuesday night
Both sides enter this Group G Champions League fixture coming off a loss in their previous group contest.
For Barcelona, after scraping by their first three group fixtures unscathed, the current La Liga leaders were finally bested by a resilient effort from Celtic in a 2-1 shocker on Nov. 7. The loss prevented La Blaugrana from clinching the group and drew the Hoops within two points.
Spartak Moscow, on the other hand, suffered a 2-0 defeat to Benfica that left their knockout round hopes on life support. The Red-Whites now have to win their final two group games to give themselves a chance. However, even that wouldn't guarantee the club advancement.
In the two sides' first group meeting on Sept. 19, Spartak Moscow shocked Barcelona by jumping out to an early 2-1 lead. However, Lionel Messi restored order for the Catalan Giants by netting two late goals to seal the victory.
In his last 14 fixtures against Barcelona, Red-Whites manager Unai Emery has failed to notch a single victory.
Will the streak finally come to a halt on Tuesday?
Where: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia
When: Tuesday, November 20, 12 p.m. EST
TV/Live Stream: FOX Soccer Channel/FOX Soccer2go
Who will win on Tuesday?
Spartak Moscow: Will injuries prove too difficult to overcome?
Sometimes a team faces an unfortunate rash of injuries. However, what Spartak Moscow are currently facing is just plain cruel.
In fact, you could nearly field an entire team with the Red-Whites’ injury report.
The club will be missing 10 key players going into this pivotal Tuesday night showdown. That includes missing not one, not two, but three goalkeepers.
At the rate Spartak Moscow’s going, it won’t be long before the manager himself auditions for a go in between the posts.
Aside from the trio of goalkeepers, the club will also be without Artem Dzyuba, Welliton, Sergei Parshivlyuk, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov—the team’s second-leading scorer—Romulo and Aiden McGeady.
The Red-Whites will have to rely on striker Emmanuel Emenike to lead the side upfront. The 25-year-old leads the team in goals with six scores in 14 appearances. However, Emenike has failed to find the back of the net in over a month and a half.
Spartak Moscow will need the striker to regain his form if they have any chance of pulling off the upset.
Barcelona: Will return of Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique spark the defense?
After conceding 18 goals in their first 12 fixtures, Barcelona have only allowed six in their seven contests since.
The return of both Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique should only improve the defense's recent strides.
In fact, Tuesday night's fixture will mark the first time that La Blaugrana will have the duo in the backfield at the same time in the Champions League since their semifinal exit against Chelsea in last year's competition.
It's one of several reasons why manager Tito Vilanova is expecting big things from his side.
On offense, Messi has been scorching hot as of late.
The Argentinian international has netted 12 goals in his last eight matches for Barcelona. On the season, he has amassed 22 goals in 18 appearances.
Messi's total of 78 goals for both club and country have him only seven behind Gerd Muller's record of most goals in a calendar year.
Expect Messi to get two or three goals closer to that mark after this one.
Prediction: Barcelona 5-1
Even if Spartak Moscow were at full strength, they would stand little to no chance of winning on Tuesday. Barcelona has been playing some of their best football as of late, and all signs point to the side continuing that run on Tuesday.
Expect La Blaugrana to open up a sizable lead early in the first half, with the Red-Whites grabbing a consolation goal late.