Group F Kick-off: 19-45 (BST)
Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola believes victory at home to Rubin Kazan is vital with difficult trips to Russia and Ukraine to come, and he expects his side to respond after losing their 100 per cent Liga record in the goalless draw at Valencia on Saturday.
Rubin Kazan coach Kurban Berdyev is hoping his side can overcome the loss of influential striker Aleksandr Bukharov, claiming “we haven’t come here to play defensively”.
“I have a lot of respect for every team, especially in the Champions League, but if we win it will be an important step for us,” said Guardiola. “We would be three or four points away from qualifying which is vital considering we have games in Russia and Ukraine to come.
“The away games will be very difficult, not just because of the climate but because of the quality of the teams. People don’t know much about Rubin, but I have studied them very carefully and I know we have to concentrate hard because they can cause surprises. They are the Russian champions and that says it all.
“I congratulate Valencia for the great match they played and now it’s another game, another challenge. We weren’t as good as we can be on Saturday and that means we have a lot of room for improvement. Ibrahimović is training. I hope he will be fit, but we have to be cautious with his injury.”
Berdyev, meanwhile, is without Bukharov, but also Petr Bystrovwho misses out with heatstroke.
“Bukharov’s absence will have some kind of impact on us but not too much. We will try to play as we usually do, although the defence will have to change slightly. Our injuries won’t affect our game because others will come in. I hope God listens to our prayers, but of course Barcelona are favourites to win.
“We expect Rubin to show what they are capable of, not just in defence but also attack, however we will have to wait and see what happens. We can’t talk about fear, but Messi is a very dangerous player. He’s not the only one – each player in their position is also dangerous.
“We have seen videos of all Barcelona’s games, but we haven’t come here to play defensively. We want to attack but we will see if that’s possible or not.”