Bayer Leverkusen face what
looks to be the near-impossible task of putting three goals past
Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Wednesday and to do so they will
need to dethrone the undisputed passing kings of Europe.
Holders Barca, who won last month's Champions League last-16
first leg in Leverkusen 3-1, have conceded just five goals in 13
home La Liga games this season and let in only two at the Nou
Camp in their three group matches in Europe's elite competition.
A big reason opponents find it so difficult to score against
Pep Guardiola's side is that they rarely go a game without
having the ball for at least 70 percent of the time, their
mesmerising passing game grinding teams into submission.
In Europe's top five leagues, Barca playmaker Xavi has
completed by far the most passes in the opponents' half this
season with 1,553, Barca's website said.
Their World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, Champions
League top scorer this term with seven goals, is second with
1,351 passes while full-back Daniel Alves is fourth on 1,215 -
sandwiched between Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso with 1,271 and
Arsenal's Mikel Arteta on 1,207.
"The fact that it is a tough prospect is clear to all of us
but it's not over until it's over, as the saying goes, and we'll
wait and see what happens," Leverkusen forward Stefan Kiessling
said in an interview on the club's website.
"We want to go there and do ourselves justice and look for
The size of the task that faces the Germans is underlined by
the fact that Barca are unbeaten in 13 European home matches
since October 2009, with 11 wins and two draws, while Leverkusen
are without an away victory in the competition in a decade.
However, they could not have wished for a better dress
rehearsal for the trip to the Catalan capital after Kiessling
scored in a 2-0 win against Bayern Munich on Saturday - their
third straight league success.
Barca, missing the suspended Messi, had Gerard Pique sent
off just after half-time at home to La Liga strugglers Sporting
Gijon on Saturday but managed to grind out a 3-1 victory thanks
to goals from Andres Iniesta, Seydou Keita and Xavi.
"To win against Bayern is special," Leverkusen coach Robin
"If we continue playing like we have done in the past few
weeks then the results will come.
"Of course it's going to be tough to win 3-0 in Barcelona
but I don't think it makes any sense to think about that.
"First of all we have to play a good game, there will be
4,000 fans coming with us to Barcelona and whether we get
through or not we owe it to them to play well."
Dutt used two strikers against Bayern, switching to a 4-4-2
formation in the second half when they scored both goals.
Switzerland forward Eren Derdiyok has recovered from an
injury picked up on international duty last week and even made a
substitute appearance against the Bavarians.
Barca will be without Alexis Sanchez, who scored twice in
the first leg, after the Chile forward damaged an adductor
muscle in the Gijon game and will be sidelined for between 10
and 15 days.
Fullback Eric Abidal picked up a groin injury while on
international duty with France last week and is also out.
Barcelona: 1-Victor Valdes; 2-Daniel Alves, 14-Javier
Mascherano, 3-Gerard Pique, 21-Adriano; 6-Xavi, 16-Sergio
Busquets, 8-Andres Iniesta; 4-Cesc Fabregas, 10-Lionel Messi,
Leverkusen: 23-Bernd Leno; 2-Daniel Schwaab, 5-Manuel
Friedrich, 21-Omer Toprak, 24-Michal Kadlec; 8-Lars Bender,
3-Stefan Reinartz, 27-Gonzalo Castro, 10-Renato Augusto, 9-Andre
Schuerrle; 11-Stefan Kiessling.
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