Tottenham Hotspur vs Barcelona: Match Preview, Team News and Predicted Lineups
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Time: 8 pm (Local Time)
After a dismal draw against Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona are back in UEFA Champions League action with their first leg match against English side Tottenham. The Catalans are going through a bad phase in LaLiga having not won a single game in three consecutive matches. The Spanish giants have managed to secure only two points out of nine in the league. Surprisingly, they still stand at the top of the table with 14 points alongside rivals Real Madrid with a better goal difference.
Barcelona hope for an improved performance on Wednesday night to present themselves as one of the strong contenders for the UCL title this season. They have found an impressive start in Champions League with a 4-0 victory over PSV Eindhoven, with Lionel Messi getting on the scoresheet three times in the match played at Nou Camp.
Champions League remains as a priority for Ernesto Valverde this season with his side bringing home LaLiga title three times in last four seasons; not being able to perform well in the European setting, they suffered a disappointing exit from the quarterfinals at the hands of Italian side AS Roma last season.
Tottenham Hotspur seem to have boosted their confidence coming to the Champions League action after a well-matched win against Huddersfield with Kane scoring a brace. Spurs have also progressed through to the fourth round of the Carabao Cup after a hard-fought game against Watford last mid-week, winning on penalties.
However, they had suffered a dramatic 2-1 loss to Inter Milan after conceding twice in the last 10 minutes of the game in their opening fixture of Group B. Strikes from Icardi and Vecino handed a loss to Pochettino’s side. This puts the English side's on greater pressure to perform well to strengthen their chances of qualifying to the knockout stages.
Spurs cannot be undermined given their performances last season against Real Madrid in the group stages. The Lilywhites will be expecting to repeat the same against Barcelona.
Barcelona will be without Samuel Umtiti with him getting sent off in the last fixture against PSV, and Sergi Roberto who limped off the pitch in the draw to Athletic Bilbao. Clement Lenglet and Gerard Pique are expected to pair-up as centre-backs alongside Jordi Alba and Nelson Semedo at full-back positions.
Valverde had rested Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets in the match against Bilbao making them fresh to start in the mid-week trip to Spurs. He is likely to deploy Messi, Suarez and Dembele at the frontline, and the trio of Busquets, Coutinho and Rakitic in the midfield. Arturo Vidal can also be a surprise start for the match replacing Dembele against Spurs for a team well balanced in both offence and defence.
On the other hand, injured players have been a major blow for Spurs. Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Serge Aurier are all set to miss the game against Barcelona. Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele who started the match against Huddersfield were withdrawn at half-time and remain sidelined for the big game.
Toby Alderweireld and Harry Winks are expected to fill the gaps due to their absence. Ben Davies seems likely to return at the full-back position after being benched in Saturday’s game. Hugo Lloris has been back in training and is likely to start in goal against the Catalans. Heung-Min Son, returning after delivering an Asian Games Gold for South Korea, is likely to replace the injured Dele Alli, and Erik Lamela should be starting in place of Christian Eriksen; Kane and Moura will be playing up front.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets; Coutinho, Rakitic, Dembele; Messi, Suarez
Spurs: Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Davies; Winks, Dier; Moura, Lamela, Son; Kane