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Messi with a mission in Champions League

(Xinhua)

09:45, October 19, 2011

MADRID, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- FC Barcelona will take a big step towards qualifying for the knockout stage of the Champions League when they entertain Czech side Viktoria Plzen in the Camp Nou on Wednesday night.

Viktoria arrive as very much the underdogs of the group and the Barcelona fans will be expecting to see their side turn on another display of precision football as they did in their last group game away to BATE Borisov.

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola still has injury problems with Ibrahima Affelay out for the season and Gerard Pique, Alexis Sanchez and Cesc Fabrigas all suffering hamstring injuries.

Cesc has resumed full training, but Guardiola is unlikely to risk the former Arsenal player in what should be a relatively straightforward game and he could introduce wide changes into his side.

Andreu Fontas, who signed a new contract with the club on Monday could well get a chance to play in central defence, while Javier Mascherano could also start along with Adriano Correia.

Seydou Keita will also be pushing for a place in the starting 11 and Thiago Alcantara, who was impressive at the weekend as Barcelona defeated Racing Santander 3-0, will also probably continue in the side allowing Andres Iniesta to rest as he too completes a return to full fitness after injury.

One player unlikely to be rested in Leo Messi. The Argentinean just can't stop scoring this season and has already scored 16 times in 12 appearances. Messi has now scored 196 goals for Barcelona in his short career and is just 39 goals behind, Cesar Rodriguez, who is the all time top scorer in Barcelona's history with 235 goals in his career.

Some fans will be wondering whether Messi will be able to celebrate his 200th goal on Wednesday night.

That may be a lot to ask, but with the form Messi is in it wouldn't be a complete surprise and the Viktoria Plzen defense know they are probably in for the most complicated night of their season.

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