In high spirits following Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing of Sevilla at the Camp Nou, Barcelona now fly North to take on FC Copenhagen Tuesday night knowing that a victory in the Danish capital will guarantee them progression to the Champions League knockout stage. With a crowded November schedule ahead in La Liga, including visits from Villareal and Real Madrid, a win in Denmark would solidify the Catalan’s position at the top of Group D with ten points from four games played.
Having done away with Sevilla on the weekend in devastating fashion, Guardiola’s side will no-doubt be brimming with confidence ahead of Tuesday’s match against a team they beat in fairly comfortable fashion a fortnight ago. José Manuel Pinto, serving a two match ban imposed by UEFA for gross unsporting conduct in the previous encounter between the two sides, and the injured Jeffren will be the only players missing from an otherwise healthy squad. Pinto’s absence should not present a problem for the Catalans, as Victor Valdés returns to the tournament after a short illness, and B team keeper Ruben Miño will take Pinto’s spot on the bench. With both Messi and Villa finding the back of the net with astounding regularity as of late, and the rest of the team beginning to work like the blaugrana machine of the past few seasons, Tuesday night could prove to be an entertaining encounter for the Culé faithful.
Midfield maestro Xavi, speaking with FCBarcelona.com after playing against Sevilla, has revealed that he has nearly recovered from the Achilles problems that have troubled him as of late. “I felt nearly 100% again and I’m optimistic about being able to play in every game, although that will depend on the injury.”
Also speaking to the club’s website following Saturday night’s game, Lionel Messi stressed the importance of a win against Copenhagen in helping to take some of the pressure off of qualification. “It’d be good to get a win so that we can practically forget about the Champions League for a while.“ These words from the scorer of both goals from the previous encounter should serve as a warning to the Danish side as to what they should expect from the Catalans on Tuesday.
An interesting, if not bizarre note, concerns Pinto’s suspension. Having broken free down the left in the previous meeting between these two sides, Copenhagen striker Cesar Santin abruptly stopped mid-stride, thinking he had been whistled for off-sides. The culprit, however, was Barcelona goalkeeper Pinto, in a clever but very unsporting attempt to stop the counter attack. His success came at the cost of a two-match ban handed down from UEFA, in one of this season’s more bizarre moments in the Champions League.
Match Prediction: Finally finding the form that made them the best football team on the planet the last few seasons, FC Barcelona should look to wrap-up qualification with a win in Copenhagen. With both Messi and Villa in fine scoring form, as well as a fit-again Xavi dictating play from midfield, the Catalan side should do away with FC Copenhagen. The Danes will once again focus on packing the box, and Barcelona will need to remain alert to Danish counter attacks, especially down the wings.
A hard fought, but hopefully entertaining victory: 2-0 for FC Barcelona.