Barcelona Coach Frank Rijkaard believes his team’s encounter with Udinese Calcio at Camp Nou could be the pivotal encounter in Group C.
Both teams opened with wins on Matchday 1 and both will be looking to maintain their momentum.
“This game is very important,” Rijkaard said.
“With both of us having won our first game, this match could prove decisive.”
Rijkaard welcomes back Ronaldinho and Deco after the pair were rested for Saturday’s 4-1 win at Real Betis.
“They both accepted my decision after I spoke with them and told them why I was doing it,” said the 42-year-old.
“The problems surrounding the decision were all created by the media. The squad is united and we are all working towards the same thing. Nothing has changed within the squad because of this.”
Udinese’s chief worry tonight is self-inflicted. Italy striker Vincenzo Iaquinta has been dropped following his refusal to sign a new deal, although his absence has not affected Rijkaard’s preparations.
“We are not thinking they will be weaker without Iaquinta,” he stated.
“We cannot lower our guard. They are an Italian team and are capable of defending a result.”
With Iaquinta out of the picture, the Udinese coach Serse Cosmi should again pair Antonio Di Natale and David Di Michele in attack.
Udinese go into the match on the back of three domestic defeats and Cosmi admitted he would be happy with a draw tonight.
“Barcelona are the strongest team in the group and it is logical and natural that they see this game as one they should win,” he said. “For us, any positive result would be great because we know very well who our main rivals in this section are.”