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Preview: BATE Borisov vs. Barcelona

Sports Mole previews the Champions League Group E clash between BATE Borisov and Barcelona.

BATE Borisov will hope to make it third time lucky as they go in search of a first Champions League win against Barcelona.

However, Barca travel to Belarus looking to protect their lead at the top of Group E and fresh from scoring in seven consecutive European away games.


BATE Borisov

BATE Borisov's coach Aleksandr Yermakovich reacts during the UEFA Champions League group E first leg football match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Bate Borisov in Leverkusen, western Germany on September 16, 2015© Getty Images

BATE coach Aleksandr Yermakovich has admitted that he made a fateful error when preparing his side to meet Barcelona four years ago.

The mistake was that he "overloaded the team with tactical details" before facing the Blaugrana, which led to two heavy defeats.

Yermakovich is hoping to take a different tack by deciding to limit his team "to the minimum", in terms of tactics.

Their 2015-16 campaign did started badly, after a 4-1 away defeat at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen, but a 3-2 win over Roma helped put them back on track.

BATE also come into this game on the back of securing a 10th consecutive domestic title, with a 2-0 away win at Vitebsk.

However, the coach of the Belarusian champions has warned Barca that his team play differently in Europe and will hope to finally register a first victory over the Catalan giants.

Recent form: WLLW
Recent form (all competitions): WDWWWL


Barcelona

FC Barcelona head coach Luis Enrique reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between AS Roma and FC Barcelona at Stadio Olimpico on September 16, 2015© Getty Images

While Yermakovich was keen to suggest a different approach from BATE, Luis Enrique has been busy playing down Barca's tag as favourites to win at the Borisov Arena.

The Blaugrana coach claimed that "a lot of things have changed since" the teams last met in the Champions League and believes that BATE's first-half performance against Roma, when they raced into a 3-0 lead, is a sign of their improvement at this level.

Nevertheless, the holders have now scored in their last seven away games in this competition, including in a 1-1 draw against Roma last month.

The Catalan giants did manage to take top spot in Group E last time out, but needed to come from behind to beat Bayer Leverkusen.

However, Barca have struggled somewhat on their travels so far this season, losing two of their opening four La Liga games.

Furthermore, while Enrique's men have scored only one goal less than Real Madrid this term, they have also conceded 11 times. Only local neighbours Espanyol and newly-promoted Real Betis have inferior defensive records in the top half of the Primera Division.

Recent form: DW
Recent form (all competitions): WLWWLW


Team News

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi kicks to score on a penalty kick during the Spanish league football match FC Barcelona vs Levante UD at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 20, 2015.© Getty Images

The European champions will be without the services of Lionel Messi and Rafinha, both of whom are sidelined with knee injuries.

Barca must also do without midfielder Andres Iniesta (hamstring), but Neymar, who scored four times against Rayo Vallecano at the weekend, is expected to feature alongside Luis Suarez in attack.

Meanwhile, BATE are still without the services of former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Aleksandr Hleb for Tuesday's game.

Kaspars Dubra (hip), Vitali Rodionov (knee) and Maksim Zhavnerchik (foot) are also sidelined for the hosts.

BATE Borisov possible starting lineup:
Chernik; Olekhnovich, Polyakov, Milunovic, Mladenovic; Aleksievich, Nikolic, A Volodko, Stasevich; Gordeichuk, Signevich

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Bravo; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Sergi; Neymar, Suarez, Sandro


Head To Head

BATE go into this game still searching for a first victory over the Spanish champions, after two unsuccessful attempts.

In the first meeting at the Dinamo Stadion in 2011, Aleksandr Volodko put through his own net before Messi scored twice as Barca registered a 5-0 in Minsk.

At the Camp Nou, Sergi Roberto, Martin Montoya and a brace from Pedro saw the Blaugrana record another thumping victory.


Sports Mole Logo

We say: BATE 0-3 Barcelona

While BATE have shown this season they can beat one of the best teams in Europe, in the form of Roma, Barca's ability to score away from home in this competition should see the Catalans win comfortably.



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Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez celebrates a goal with his teammates during the UEFA Champions League football match FC Barcelona vs Bayer Leverkusen at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 29, 2015.
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JapanJapan124521
ChinaChina115824
United StatesUnited States1011930
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia78520
AustraliaAustralia61916
Great BritainGreat Britain56516
Today's Olympic highlights header

Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
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RUGBY SEVENS
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HOCKEY
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> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Athletic Bilbao00000000
2Atletico MadridAtletico00000000
3Barcelona00000000
4CadizCadiz00000000
5Celta Vigo00000000
6AlavesAlaves00000000
7ElcheElche00000000
8Espanyol00000000
9Getafe00000000
10Granada00000000
11Levante00000000
12Mallorca00000000
13Osasuna00000000
14Rayo Vallecano00000000
15Real Betis00000000
16Real Madrid00000000
17Real Sociedad00000000
18Sevilla00000000
19Valencia00000000
20Villarreal00000000

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