Barcelona are back for another bite at the Champions League apple looking to get the bad taste from last season's tournament out of their mouths. Despite losing to eventual champions Chelsea, Barca basically dominated the tie everywhere but the one place it really mattered. The past is the past though, and the Blaugrana will look to take their place back at the top of Europe
Tito Vilanova and Barca welcome Spartak Moscow to the Camp Nou in their Group G opening match. This will make Vilanova's first match in the competition and anything other than a victory will of course be unacceptable.
Spartak's head coach is Unai Emery, the former Spanish coach of Valencia from 2008 to 2012. He took over Spartak tin May and is very familiar with the Spanish giants. Of course, he's never led a team to victory over Barca, but the familiarity with the opponent and the venue can't hurt as he prepares his side for the match. If Emery can pull the upset it would not only be his first against Barcelona, but it would be the Blaugrana's first home loss in European competition since October 2009. In other words, it's highly unlikely.
Vilanova rested a couple starters during his team's 4-1 win over Getafe on Saturday, including Lionel Messi who did play, but only as a second half sub. Striker David Villa is rounding back in to form after his injury last season and could be in contention for a start. Barcelona aren't dealing with any major injury issues other than Carles Puyol being out four to six weeks with yet another knee injury.
Lionel Messi started from the bench in Barcelona's comfortable 4-1 win over Getafe last weekend and is expected to come back into the starting side, with striker David Villa also in contention after he scored in that game as a substitute.
The biggest question facing Emery and Spartak is one of formation. He's shown to prefer a 4-2-3-1 alignment with one of two strikers, Emmanuel Emenike or Artem Dzyuba, up top, but given Barca's firepower, he could elect to go with a more conservative formation in an attempt to keep the game in front of them. Spartak have good team speed however and tend to already play a counter attacking style, so Barca will need to be sharp defensively or face getting stung by the Russian side.
It should be an interesting match, but one Barcelona should win without too much trouble.
Match Date/Time: Wednesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
TV: FOX Sports Net (U.S.), Sky Sports (U.K. - Red Button), Sportsnet One (Canada)
Online: FOX Soccer 2 Go (U.S.)
For more on the Blaugrana, head over to FC Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes. We'll have coverage of every match in our UEFA Champions League Wednesday StoryStream. For more on the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on Twitter.