Barça v Spartak: Did you know…

Pedro Rodríguez /  PHOTO: ARXIU FCB
FC Barcelona are unbeaten in their last sixteen European fixtures at the Camp Nou, but their last defeat was also against a team from the Russian Championship, Rubin Kazan

There are a number of interesting facts related with FCB’s first game in their Champions League campaign, and here we pick out some of the juiciest nuggets:

• This will be third time that Barça and Spartak have met. The last time was in the group stages of the 1993/94 season, when Barça won 5-1 at the Camp Nou and drew 2-2 in the Russian capital

• Barça’s record against teams from Russia is five wins, five draws and two defeats. Their home record consists of four wins and two defeats

• FC Barcelona have not lost any of their last 16 home fixtures in Europe, but the last loss was also against a representative of the Russian Premier League, Rubin Kazan (1-2), on October 20, 2009

• Barça are just four goals short of reaching 800 in UEFA competitions

• Barça have won seven of their last eight opening Champions league fixtures when they have been played at home. The only time they didn’t start with all three points was last season in the 2-2 draw with AC Milan

• Spartak Moscow won two and lost one of their three away matches in the group stages last season. They won at Marseille (0-1) and Zilina (1-2) but lost to eventual champions Chelsea (4-1)

Spartak are currently seventh in the Russian Premier League with 13 points from eight matches. They started well, with three wins out of three, but this was followed by a hefty 5-0 defeat at Zenit, and they have only won one of their four matches played since

Unai Emery did not beat Barça in any of 12 previous attempts as manager of Almeria and Valencia (five draws and seven defeats)

• In tonight’s match, David Villa and Jordi Alba will both be meeting up once again with their former boss at Valencia

• Another reunion will be that of Valeri Karpin, the executive director of Spartak, and José Manuel Pinto, who played together at Celta from 1998 to 2002

Leo Messi, the top scorer in the last four editions of the Champions League, has never scored against a Russian team

Dutchman De Zeeuw, who normally plays in the Spartak midfield, was sent off in the last game of the qualifying stages and is therefore suspended for tonight’s game at the Camp Nou

• This will be a doubly special night for Spartak’s Brazilian star Rómulo, because September 19 is also his 22nd birthday

• Tonight’s match official will be Milorad Mazic of Serbia, who takes charge of a Champions League game for the first time, although he has plenty of experience, having previously refereed 35 different games in UEFA sanctioned competitions.