Barcelona may be tempted to throw Lionel Messi into Champions League action against Rubin Kazan on Wednesday despite the Argentine superstar having been sidelined by an ankle injury.
World footballer of the year Messi was in the 19-man squad which travelled to Russia for the Group D clash despite the Spanish giants sitting comfortably, having crushed Panathinaikos in their opening game.
Messi, who has missed the last two league games, scored twice in that match but Barcelona are wary of a Rubin Kazan side which pulled off a famous 2-1 win at the Nou Camp on their competition debut last season.
The return leg ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
“Rubin surprised us at home last season and that really set up the group,” said Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta.
“The weather conditions and the difficulty of the rivals made it a very complicated task when we went over to Kazan.
“But this season we are going after having played the first game and the time of the year means that the climate will be more benign.”
Rubin Kazan, the Russian champions, go into the game on the back of a 1-0 win over Alania Vladikavkaz to stay in the race for a title repeat.
Italian full-back Salvatore Bochetti was the match-winner, scoring the decisive goal in the 38th minute by drilling the ball home through a packed penalty area.
Rubin, who suffered a 1-0 defeat in their Champions League campaign opener in Copenhagen, will try to summon the spirit of last year’s win in Barcelona where Alexander Ryazantsev and Gokdeniz Karadeniz were on the scoresheet.
“We all are in a confident mood ahead of clash with Barcelona,” Ryazantsev said.
“We won the last match in domestic league and are still in the race for the title.”
“The upcoming match will be completely different. We and Barcelona are completely different this year. But I hope the match will be still interesting. Barcelona are always strong.”
Rubin are at full strength for Wednesday’s match.
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