Barcelona will travel to Denmark this week to face Copenhagen in Champions League group D action at Parken Stadium. Barca sit atop the group with seven points from 3 games while Copenhagen sit right behind them with six points.
These two teams faced off just two weeks ago at the Camp Nou, with Barca taking a 2-0 win thanks to a Lionel Messi brace. While Barca did take all three points in the previous match, it was anything but a cakewalk.
Copenhagen played a much more aggressive style than Barca are used to seeing from minnows. Perhaps Barca were expecting the Rubin Kazan approach of playing 11 men behind the ball. Instead, Copenhagen came into the Camp Nou with a gameplan and they stuck to it. They played a 4-4-2, stayed compact and well organized, had a defensive focus, but when they countered they countered hard.
Dame N'Doye has played very well for Copenhagen in this tournament, scoring goals in victories over Rubin Kazan as well as Panathinaikos. N'Doye nearly scored a late equalizer against Barca as his shot off the crossbar nearly leveled at 1-1 before Messi put the game away in injury time.
If not for Barca keeper Jose Pinto imitating the referees whistle to fool Copenhagen into thinking they were offside and killing a breakaway, it may have been a different outcome in that game.
Copenhagen have been absolutely dominating the Danish league, with a 14 point lead over their nearest rival through 14 games this year. Add in the fact that this match is on their home turf and they will be a fearsome opponent.
Barca enters full of confidence after a 5-0 mauling of Sevilla this past weekend. Barca have been creating all kinds of scoring chances this year but have struggled to convert. The onslaught of goals this past weekend should boost morale. Messi scored twice on the weekend but that's nothing new, he's been fantastic this year. The really exciting news is that David Villa scored twice as well. If Barca are going to make a serious run in the Champions League then Villa must shine. For all his experience in big games playing at the international level, Villa's Champions League resume is lacking.
Through three CL games this year Lionel Messi has four goals scored, only Inter Milan's Samuel Eto'o has more (6). Perhaps on Tuesdsy Messi will gain ground on his former teammate.
If Barca play their game and dictate the tempo, like they normally do, then they should of course get all three points. If they revert back to earlier this year and fail to convert on quality chances, a tie in this match would surprise nobody.