Evening all! Sports Mole
's live Champions League
coverage continues from Germany as Borussia Monchengladbach
welcome Barcelona in Group C. Gladbach suffered a 4-0 defeat at Manchester City on matchday one, but Barcelona recorded a thumping 7-0 win against Celtic to rise to the top of the section after one fixture. Can the Spanish champions move onto six points tonight? Stay tuned for the action!
Somewhat surprisingly, tonight will be the first ever meeting between these two sides in all competitions. However, against teams from Spain in European competition, Gladbach have managed just one victory in their last nine attempts – losing six times in the process. It is not quite a must-win for the home side tonight, but can they really afford to suffer another defeat in Group C at this stage? Not if they have serious ambitions of finishing either first or second in the section.
Barcelona are the favourites tonight, but they have only won one of their last six matches against Bundesliga opposition in Germany. That said, they did beat Juventus in the 2015 Champions League final in Berlin. Overall, Barcelona's away record against German teams is won nine, drawn 11 and lost seven.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from Monchengladbach. We know that Barcelona are without Lionel Messi – is it Arda Turan
alongside Neymar and Luis Suarez once again? Is Raffael back in for the hosts? All the questions answered...
GLADBACH: Sommer; Korb, Christensen, Elvedi, Wendt; Dahoud, Stindl, Kramer; Hazard, Raffael, Traore
FCB: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Iniesta, Rakitic; Neymar, Suarez, Alcacer
Gladbach boss Andre Schubert has made three changes to the team that recorded a 2-0 win over Ingolstadt at the weekend, with Raffael, Thorgan Hazard
and Ibrahima Traore all coming into the final third. Lars Stindl will once again skipper the German side from an advanced midfield position, while Julian Korb and Oscar Wendt will switch from wing-backs to full-backs in what appears to be a 4-3-3 formation.
As for Barcelona, Lionel Messi's absence in the final third has opened up a spot alongside Luis Suarez and Neymar. It was thought that either Rafinha or Arda Turan would be given a start, but summer signing Paco Alcacer has been selected on the right of the front three. Elsewhere, it is arguably the Spanish side's strongest team as Ivan Rakitic and Andres Iniesta start alongside Sergio Busquets in midfield. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, meanwhile, returns to the club where he spent 18 years.
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So there we have it. The two teams are in and we are now just about 40 minutes from kickoff on this mild evening in Germany. I shall speak about the home side a little bit later, but let's start with Barcelona, who will be looking to follow up their 7-0 win over Celtic last time out with another victory tonight. Whatever happens in this match, it is very difficult to see Barcelona failing to qualify, but it might well be tricky to top the section with Manchester City on fire under Pep Guardiola.
Incredibly, Barcelona have won the Champions League in four of the last 11 seasons. No other team has won it more times in the same period, although Real Madrid have lifted the title in two of the last three campaigns. What's more, Barcelona have reached at least the semi-finals of this competition in seven of the last nine seasons, which is a stunning record at this level of football.
In the 2013-14 campaign and indeed last season, Barcelona were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Atletico Madrid and despite dominating La Liga, they have had to watch rivals Real Madrid enjoy European success. They are once again among the favourites to challenge for the trophy this season, but Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and even Juventus will also all be confident of lifting the title.
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Barcelona, who are unbeaten in their last five away games in the group stage of the Champions League, will enter this match off the back of a 5-0 win over Sporting Gijon at the weekend. That victory moved Luis Enrique's side onto 13 points from six La Liga matches, which has left them one point off the leaders Real Madrid, who have not won Spain's top flight since 2012.
Barcelona have actually dropped points in two of their last four league matches – suffering a shock 2-1 home defeat to Alaves on September 10, before being held to a 1-1 draw by Atletico Madrid on September 21. They put five unanswered goals past Sporting Gijon at the weekend, but it would be fair to say that the Catalan giants are yet to find serious consistency in the early stages of the season.
In terms of what is ahead for Barcelona, they will travel to Celta Vigo in the league on Sunday, before welcoming Deportivo La Coruna to Camp Nou after the international break. Then comes a home game against Manchester City in the Champions League, before facing Valencia (A) and Granada (H) in the league before the end of the month. Very busy October for the Spanish giants!
As for Gladbach, they will enter this match off the back of a 2-0 win over Ingolstadt at the weekend, which made it three games unbeaten in the Bundesliga. From five league matches this season, they have collected 10 points, which has left them fourth in the table – five points behind the leaders Bayern Munich, who have won all five of their league games this term.
The German outfit have actually won their last 11 home games in all competitions, but they were well beaten at Manchester City on matchday one. It is going to be very difficult for them to qualify ahead of Man City and Barcelona in this group and therefore it might be a battle for third alongside Celtic. In truth, a solid run in the Europa League might well be just what Gladbach need.
This is actually only Gladbach's second ever season in the group stage of the Champions League. Last season, they were drawn alongside Sevilla, Man City and Juventus in Group D and only won one of their six matches to finish bottom of the group. It is going to be tough for them tonight, but as mentioned, they have won their last 11 home games in all competitions. Kickoff is not far away now!
Here we go then - the pre-match handshakes have been undertaken and the flags have been exchanged. It must be said that there is a stunning atmosphere inside the stadium. A sea of green! Can Gladbach trip up Barcelona tonight? It will be tough, but they have the 12th man, that is for sure.
KICKOFF! Barcelona kick things off on German soil...
... you just get the feeling that the first goal tonight - if there indeed is one - could be crucial. As expected, Barcelona, who are in their third kit, have taken control of the possession early on here. Gladbach will be more than prepared to sit deep, especially in the opening 15, 20 minutes of this game.
Half-chance for the home side as Hazard drives into the Barcelona box before striking towards goal, but the ball actually hits the hand of Pique. No penalty and it goes down as a good block!
Good grief, Celtic have taken the lead against Man City in Group F's other fixture tonight. Some atmosphere at Celtic Park and that is some score. I shall keep you updated with that one!
Gladbach have made a really positive start to this match, with the home side already threatening in wide areas. Hazard looks to have the beating of Alba, while Traore has shown his pace down the other side. Barcelona are yet to really settle despite enjoying most of the ball early on tonight.
SAVE! Super football from Barcelona as Alba finds Neymar inside the home side's box, but the Brazilian's effort is straight at Sommer. Excellent move which also involved Suarez.
Nine minutes on the clock and it has been a very open game of football thus far. Gladbach have had a decent chance through Hazard, while Neymar fired Barcelona's best opportunity straight at Sommer.
CLOSE! Barcelona come close once again as Suarez battles for possession inside the Gladbach box before firing the ball towards the top corner, but it just misses the post!
UPDATE! Fernandinho has levelled at Celtic Park. Now 1-1 in that game.
The match has just settled down in the last five minutes or so and unsurprisingly, Barcelona are enjoying more of the possession. We have seen little from Raffael in the opening 14 minutes of this match, but Hazard has been a threat in possession of the ball. Barcelona continue to pass and probe.
Most of the home side's good work is coming down their right at the moment as Hazard continues to trouble Alba, but the final ball has been lacking thus far. Still goalless in Gladbach at the moment.
It has been a busy last couple of minutes for the referee, who has been forced to intervene following a couple of skirmishes. Tensions appear to be running high on the pitch, which could well produce a yellow card in the very near future. Not too much to report in terms of chances with 19 played.
UPDATE! Celtic are back ahead against Man City. The Scots lead 2-1.
Group F's other match has taken all of the goals tonight. Barcelona and Gladbach are almost cancelling each other out at the moment as chances remain few and far between. You just get the feeling that the first goal tonight - if there indeed is one - could be vital in terms of the final result.
CHANCE! Stunning chance for Barcelona as Neymar sets up Suarez with a brilliant pass, but Alcacer cannot convert the centre-forward's low cross. Super challenge from Korb!
SAVE! Sommer is forced to push a deflected Rakitic effort wide of the post.
Gladbach just need to be careful here as Barcelona continue to pass and probe, and opportunities are now arriving courtesy of the brilliance of Neymar, who is causing all sorts of problems in the final third. Traore has a half-chance down the other end, but his curling effort was always wide.
Decent period of possession for Gladbach in the last couple of moments, but they are not really going anywhere as Barcelona remain comfortable at the back. There has been another goal in Scotland.
UPDATE! Now 2-2 at Celtic Park. Sterling has Man City's leveller there.
If Barcelona are to take the lead tonight, you sense that it is going to come from either Neymar or Suarez. Those two have been so threatening in the opening 31 minutes of this match and in truth, both should have already scored. Gladbach are doing pretty well to contain the forwards here.
Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining and in truth, it has not been a particularly good game. Barcelona have been the better side, but Gladbach have been disappointing in the final third.
GOAL! Gladbach 1-0 Barcelona (Hazard)
The home side take the lead in the 34th minute of this match as Hazard fires home from close range after a super pass from Dahoud, who had found the winger in space at the far post.
Barcelona are a bit ragged at the moment as they attempt to recover from that blow.
CHANCES! Barcelona should be level after having two super chances in a matter of seconds, but Suarez cannot beat Sommer from close range and somehow the home side scramble clear following a period of panic inside the box. Suarez does not often miss from there!
Little under five minutes of the first period remaining and while Barcelona are pressing, Gladbach are pretty comfortable as we move closer to the interval. I would be surprised if there were not more goals in this match, but Alba might have just lost the ball after firing high into the stands!
Barcelona are really pinning the home side back at the moment as they seek an equaliser in the final stages of the first period. Gladbach need to find a way to ride this spell of pressure here.
Gladbach break, and Stindl fires into the stands. Never testing Ter Stegen there.
HALF-TIME: Gladbach 1-0 Barcelona
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with the home side leading Barcelona 1-0 courtesy of a close-range finish from Hazard, who converted a brilliant cross from Dahoud. Barcelona have had their moments, but have been a little wasteful in the final third of the field.
STATISTICS! Barcelona have dominated the possession with 62%, while they have had five attempts - three of which were on target. Gladbach, meanwhile, only managed to hit the target with one of their six attempts, but it was a big one from Hazard. Not a single booking to report at the moment.
BENCH WATCH! Gladbach boss Schubert has plenty of forward options on his bench tonight, with the likes of Hahn, Herrmann and Johnson all capable of making an impact in the second period. Barcelona, meanwhile, have attacking options in the shape of Rafinha, Gomes, Denis Suarez and Turan.
RESTART! Gladbach resume the action on home soil...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, you suspect that both managers will already have alterations in mind for the second 45 minutes here.
UPDATE! Celtic now lead 3-2 against Man City. Dembele has his second!
Raffael has a problem for the home side after going down after a collision with Mascherano. Might well need to make a change early in the second period, which would be a really big blow here.
GLADBACH SUB! Johnson replaces Raffael for the home side.
You just get the feeling that the next goal tonight - if there indeed is one - could well decide the outcome of the match. If Barcelona level, they would fancy their chances of scoring a second, but another for Gladbach and it makes things very difficult for the visitors. So delicately poised at the moment.
Barcelona are preparing to make their first change of the match as Rafinha kits up here.
BARCA SUB! Rafinha replaces Alcacer for the away side.
UPDATE! Now 3-3 at Celtic Park. Nolito with Man City's third there.
All of the goals have been saved for Group F's other fixture! Neither side has had a chance of note in the early stages of the second period and that is great news for the home team, who will attempt to spoil Barcelona's passing in the next 10 minutes or so. Still plenty of football to play tonight though.
Rakitic strikes towards goal, but Sommer is on hand to make the save.
All Barcelona at the moment in terms of possession, but chances are few and far between as the visitors continue to struggle in the final third of the field. It is too easy to say that Barcelona are missing Messi. Obviously they are, but they should still have enough to win this match.
BARCELONA SUB! Rakitic is replaced by Turan for the visitors.
Barcelona continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field, but the home side are doing a good job of making that final challenge. Neymar comes close to collecting a smart pass from Turan, but the Brazilian's touch is too strong and Sommer smothers the ball. Still 1-0 Gladbach here.
BOOKING! Mascherano (Barcelona) is booked for a late challenge on Johnson.
I am struggling to think of the last time that Barcelona were this poor in the final third of the field. The Spanish giants continue to dominate the ball, but they are just not creating chances here.
GOAL! Gladbach 1-1 Barcelona (Turan)
Barcelona level the scores in the 65th minute of this match as Turan smashes the ball home from close range after a smart pass from Neymar. It is tough on the home side, but we are now level!
Still more than 20 minutes of football remaining in this match and the home side need to be really careful as Barcelona continue to dominate possession in the final third. More chances will arrive.
BOOKING! Pique (Barcelona) is booked for a pull on Hazard.
Barcelona continue to force the issue as they overload the Gladbach half of the field, but the home side manage to clear a couple of corners in quick succession. Still more than 15 left to play here.
GOAL! Gladbach 1-2 Barcelona (Pique)
Barcelona level the scores in the 74th minute as Pique turns home from close range after Sommer had palmed a Suarez effort straight into the penalty box. Terrible goalkeeping there!
SAVE! Sommer has to push a Turan chip over the crossbar as Barcelona seek a third goal here. In truth, Gladbach have really struggled to get going in the second period of action.
GLADBACH SUB! Hermann replaces Hazard for the home side.
Possession football for Barcelona at the moment as they pass and probe in the final third of the field. The visitors have been far from their best tonight, but look to be getting the job done here.
GLADBACH SUB! Hahn replaces Stindl for the home side.
Little under five minutes of football remaining and in truth, not too much is happening at the moment. There might be one last chance for Gladbach, although Barcelona are quite comfortable.
There seems to be a lack of belief from the home side as Barcelona continue to play this match at their own pace with little over two minutes of normal time remaining. Gladbach showed heart and desire in the first period, but that has been lacking since the break. Barcelona are controlling it here.
We are into the first of three additional minutes in this match.
BOOKING! Neymar (Barcelona) is booked for dissent.
The quality from the home side has been absent in the second period and it does appear that they are going to lose a game that they had control of in the first period. Not long left at all here.
Seconds left to play and Barcelona are deep as the home side press.
FULL-TIME: Gladbach 1-2 Barcelona
So there we have it. The referee brings the second period to a close with Barcelona running out 2-1 winners on the night to move onto six points in Group C. That is just about it from me tonight, but be sure to stick around the site for all of tonight's Champions League reaction. Until next time!