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Stuttgart fearing the worst against Barcelona
October 02, 2007 08:51 IST
Barcelona are in intimidating form going into Tuesday's Champions League clash with VfB Stuttgart and the Germans are fearing the worst.
Ronaldinho [Images] is likely to be back from injury for the Group E game at the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion but Barca will scarcely feel they need him.
Since kick-starting their season with a 3-0 win over Olympique Lyon they have won their last three league games, scoring 10 goals in the process, as the effervescent Lionel Messi [Images] has taken over the leadership of the side.
They laid on another exhibition in a 4-1 win away to Levante on Saturday, with Thierry Henry [Images] contributing a hat-trick to show he is at last settling in.
How Stuttgart could do with some of that Catalan panache.
The Bundesliga champions, beaten 2-1 by Rangers in their first group game, suffered a fourth league defeat of the season on Saturday, 2-1 away to a distinctly modest Hansa Rostock team.
They are already 10 points behind pacesetters Bayern Munich and coach Armin Veh is running out of ideas.
"I can't imagine we'll be able to deny Barcelona chances," Veh told reporters after the game.
"We're making far too many defensive mistakes and if we do the same against Barcelona it's going to be very hard for us. I can't make too many changes because I don't have the options."
Stuttgart have a glimmer of hope in the continuing good form of Mario Gomez, the Germany [Images] striker and Barca fan who scored his fourth league goal of the season on Saturday.
While Barcelona seem to be back in their best form, coach Frank Rijkaard does have injury concerns.
Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure limped off with a thigh injury and Argentina centre-back Gabriel Milito also suffered a muscle problem. Italy [Images] defender Gianluca Zambrotta has already been ruled out of the trip to Stuttgart with injury.
"I'm pleased with the win, with Henry's three goals, and the way the team has performed, but the injuries leave a bittersweet taste," Rijkaard said after the Levante game.
Rafael Marquez was rested on Saturday with a minor injury but could return in midfield, while Lilian Thuram and fit again captain Carles Puyol unite in the centre of defence.
VfB Stuttgart: 1-Raphael Schaefer; 3-Ricardo Osorio, 5-Vardar Tasci, 6-Fernando Meira, 21-Ludovic Magnin; 13-Pavel Pardo, 19-Roberto Hilbert, 28-Sami Khedira, 10-Yildiray Basturk; 18-Cacau, 33-Mario Gomez
Barcelona: 1-Victor Valdes; 23-Oleguer, 5-Carles Puyol, 21-Lilian Thuram, 22-Eric Abidal; 4-Rafael Marquez or 8-Andres Iniesta, 6-Xavi, 20-Deco; 14-Thierry Henry, 10-Ronaldinho, 19-Lionel Messi
UEFA Champions League 2007-08: The Complete Coverage