Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Barcelona in the edge, Chelsea in the top

It is a hard time for Rijkaard's team in the Champions League. FC Barcelona face their penultimate Group match knowing that they are on the verge of making an unwanted piece of history.

Indeed, if results go against them on Wednesday, Barcelona would become the first defending champions to fail to get through a group stage since the Champions League began.

It's important to know that Levski Sofia would need to beat Frank Rijkaard's men at home in Sofia, a result that looks unlikely considering Barcelona beat the Bulgarian squad 5-0 in the reverse fixture in September.

Coach Frank Rijkaard has opted to keep faith with the same 18-man squad that beat Mallorca 4-1 in La Liga at the weekend, although he still has several key men unavailable.

Rijkaard has only one fit striker in Eidur Gudjohnsen, with Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o, Argentina's Javier Saviola and Lionel Messi all injured, along with midfielder Edmilson and right back Juliano Belletti.

In fact, Levski have so far conceded 13 goals in losing their first four matches in the group, and coach Stanimir Stoilov has suffered another blow ahead of the match with the news that striker Emil Angelov will not play.

But it's a must to mention that first-choice goalkeeper Georgi Petkov has recovered from a finger injury and will replace 18-year-old Nikolay Mihaylov, who had a nightmare debut in the Champions League against Werder last month.

As we know, forwardr Valeri Domovchiyski is also available after recovering from a groin injury, and warmed up for the big clash by scoring in a 3-0 demolition of city rivals Lokomotiv on Saturday.

Werder Bremen face firts place Chelsea

Mourinho's Chelsea go in to their penultimate group match knowing that they need just a point to ensure qualification.

Indeed, Jose Mourinho has promised to pick his strongest available team for the tie, dismissing suggestions he might attempt to help sabotage rivals Barcelona's bid for qualification by gifting the points to second-placed Werder.

The Portuguese coach has left centre-back Ricardo Carvalho out of his squad for the match, after he was substituted at half-time during the Premiership win at the weekend.

We must know that Salomon Kalou also misses the trip to Germany with medial knee ligament damage.

German side Bremen have failed to win in their last five matches, and needed a late Miroslav Klose goal to rescue a point against Alemannia Aachen at the weekend.

It's also important to mention that Patrick Owomoyela (ankle injury) and Mohamed Zidan (groin operation) are definitely out of the match, while captain Frank Baumann, who is currently recovering from an achilles problem, will also miss out through suspension.

Full back Christian Schulz pulled out of training early on Monday complaining of soreness in his knee, but is still hopeful of recovering in time to take his place in the starting team.

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