PHOTO: ARCHIVE FCB

It might sound incredible, but with Josep Guardiola on the bench, Barcelona have never won both the third and fourth matches of a Champions League campaign, despite always finishing top of their group. Basel, Rubin Kazan and Copenhagen, all unknown quantities, managed to get three points off Barça and put the Catalans' second round hopes in danger. Now FCB face another outsider in Viktoria Plzeň of the Czech Republic, who are competing at this level for the first time ever.

Two wins

Barça seem to have many of their more regular opponents down to a T, and strangely enough it's unknown quantities that often cause them the most problems. Guardiola has been saying time and again over the last few days that his team seems to struggle against unknown teams in the early stages, often much more than against their more renowned rivals in the later rounds. The surprise effect has caught Barça napping several times in recent years, and so the utmost caution is required on Wednesday night in a game in which another three points would put them on excellent course for a place in the last sixteen.

With two hypothetical wins in the bag, Barça would be able to permit themselves the luxury of relaxing in the last two group matches and concentrating efforts on the league instead.

19 in squad

But it would be foolish to talk too much about that before the game against Viktoria at the Camp Nou has even kicked off, the first of three consecutive home fixtures (Racing, Viktoria and Sevilla). Guardiola is missing four important players in Piqué, Cesc, Afellay and Alexis, and has therefore drafted in Cuenca and Dos Santos from the B team. That makes for a 19-strong squad, but one of these will have to be dropped before the match.

Strong visitors

Viktoria have been on excellent away form in Europe so far this season. They won all three of their qualifying matches on the road and also performed well at the San Siro before ultimately going down 2-0 to AC Milan. It would be a serious error to think that tonight's match is going to be easy, and a second failure to get three points at home would complicate the qualification options for the defending champions.