When you think Barcelona in Europe recently, you think of an all-conquering force. Since their Champions League win in the 2008/09 season, every team that's met up with Pep Guardiola has been the underdogs. On the one occasion that they've lost since then, it was a huge shock. Barcelona are the team, and have been for the past few years.
Fear, then, is not something you'd normally associate with Barca fans. However, this season hasn't been going very well, and doubts are creeping into the mind of Arron Duckling, of Barca Blaugranes. Arron cites the away form of the defending champions as a reason he's a little bit nervous going into the game:
Bayer Leverkusen are on a run of three straight home wins in the prestigious competition, but they only have one win from their last six league matches. On the other hand, Barcelona have managed an average of four goals per game away from home in the UCL, but are on a run of three away games without a win. The formbook is hinting at a close match, and I have to admit, I am pretty nervous ahead of [the match].
The BayArena may be a small ground, but 30,000 Leverkusen fans will create a hostile atmosphere in the hope it knocks the Blaugrana off their game. Barcelona will be looking to escape with as favourable a result as possible, or at least an away goal to their name. Both sides have an injury problem; the two teams are actually incredibly evenly matched, unless Pep Guardiola’s side decides to turn up tomorrow.
Personally, I think Arron's a little bit more worried than is really rational - Barca are a much better team than Leverkusen and should manage to beat them fairly handily with a full-strength squad. However, there's something to the idea that the swagger's no longer really present in Pep Guardiola's side. Perhaps they can re-establish it with a strong run in Europe this year.