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Barcelona vs. APOEL, 2014 UEFA Champions League: Team news and game preview

Luis Enrique's first Champions League match in charge of Barcelona is against an APOEL team they should easily defeat.

Alex Caparros

Luis Enrique leads Barcelona into the Champions League for the first time on Wednesday against Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia. It's easy to immediately dismiss APOEL as the smallest of minnows, but this team did win their group in 2011, finishing ahead of Zenit Saint Petersburg, Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk. While this certainly isn't the same group, the point is more that no one should be underestimated.

Key Player: The Barcelona Defense

The much maligned Barca defense has actually been pretty good this season. Enrique appears to have calmed things down a bit and has watched his team earn three straight clean sheets to start the league season. Granted only Athletic Club offered a true offensive test, but Barca were leaking goals against virtually everyone last season so clearly there's been an improvement. Even with injuries and suspensions, the various lineups have all worked for Enrique which should make him confident knowing he can mix and match as needed.

Key Matchup: Messi & Friends vs. The APOEL Bus

APEOL are expected to do what most teams do against Barcelona and put nine men behind the ball. It's a common theme in matches involving the Blaugrana, and while they've gotten rather adept at finding ways through a clogged defensive third, it's still a lot of work. Since this match is at the Camp Nou, chances are Messi will find his way through the congestion a few times and either score a couple goals, or setup his teammates for two or three.

Barcelona injuries and suspensions

Out: Dani Alves (knee), Thomas Vermaelen (hamstring).

APOEL injuries and suspensions

In Doubt: Tasos Papzaoglou (stomach), Stathis Aloneftis (ankle), John Arne Riise (knock).

Luis Enrique could be missed Dani Alves as he continues to struggle with a knee injury. Normally this would be a big deal, but Barca looked strong without him on Saturday with Martin Montoya filling in well for the Brazilian. If Alves is out, Montoya will probably get another chance to shine.

Match Date/Time: Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain

TV: FOX Sports Regional, FOX Deportes (U.S.), Sky Sports Red Button (U.K.), Sportsnet One (Canada), Canal+ Yomvi, C+ Liga de Campeones/HD (Spain), Nova Sports 1 (Greece)

Online: FOX Soccer 2Go, FOX Sports Go (U.S.), Sportsnet World Now (Canada), SkyGo (U.K.)

Listings via LiveSoccerTV.