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FCBarcelona - Viktoria 19-10-11 (7)

The second half of the Champions League group stage gets under way tonight with Group E divided in two. Barça and Milan are flying away with 7 points each, and in 22 days time, their meeting could well decide who finishes top of the group. Meanwhile, Viktoria and BATE Borisov have just one point each from the game the two teams drew. Tonight we have a meeting between Czechs and Catalans in Prague, while the Belarusians and Italians go head to head in Minsk. The two games could decide many different things.

A win would leave Barça all but mathematically qualified for the second round, while if BATE don’t beat Milan, then qualification would already be certain.

Important warning

Viktoria Plzen was always expected to be the weakest team in the group, but at the Camp Nou they showed that they are certainly not just here to make up the numbers. The defending champions found their tight defence extremely hard to break down and the eventual win by 2-0 was in doubt until the very end. The Czechs will probably do something similarly defensive tonight, only this time with the home advantage. It is harder to guess what kind of tactics Guardiola will go for. He has recently been switching between 3-4-3 and 4-3-3, sometimes midway through matches. This will also be conditioned by several returns from injury. Even Alexis Sánchez has travelled to the Czech Republic, even though he has not yet been declared fully fit after a month and a half on the sidelines. The only players that are definitely out through injury are Pedro and Afellay.

Record breakers

This is a particularly special night for three members of the team: Pep Guardiola, Víctor Valdés and Leo Messi. The coach is on the bench for the 200th time since taking over the first team. The goalkeeper is 38 minutes away from beating the all-time club record for minutes without conceding a goal, which is currently held by Miguel Reina. And the striker could score his 200th goal for the club tonight. Without a shadow of a doubt, this is the night for breaking records.

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