Roger Schmidt with Karim Bellarabi in their pre-game press conference in Leverkusen / Bayer04.de

Bayer Leverkusen know they have to win on Wednesday evening (8.45pm CET) against FC Barcelona to have any chance of making it through to the last 16 of the Champions League for the third consecutive season. The Germans also have to hope that Group E rivals AS Roma falter at home in their final fixture against Belarusians BATE Borisov. Coach Roger Schmidt knows the size of the task facing his team with the visit of the current European Champions in Barça and he admitted: “Together with Bayern Munich, they are probably the best side in the world.

“Barcelona are in great shape. With Messi being fit again, they are even stronger – he is the best player in the world after all. There is no way to completely deny him.

“We are looking forward to the game and want to compete with them in our own stadium. We have already shown that we are capable of putting in special performances in Europe.”

The Bundesliga side’s task is made all the more difficult due to their current inconsistent form. The 2-1 defeat away at the weekend against Hertha Berlin was their third loss in the league in their last five games and has seen them slip to eighth place in the table, 19 points behind leaders Bayern Munich. Furthermore, Leverkusen will have to put an end to a run of six straight defeats against Barça in Europe, the most recent a 2-1 reverse at Camp Nou back in September in their first meeting in Group E of this season's Champions League.

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