It’s back to the Champions League tomorrow night with the first leg of the last 16 at Stuttgart. Pep Guardiola has taken twenty players on the trip though that includes Xavi Hernandez and Dani Alves who still haven’t received medical clearance and seem unlikely to start the game. We are still without Eric Abidal and Seydou Keita but Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be fit to play, while Johnathan dos Santos and Marc Bartra from Barça Atletic have been included to make up the numbers. Stuttgart qualified for the last 16 from the same group as Sevilla though they did nothing very much to impress. In their three home games they lost 1-3 to Sevilla, drew 1-1 with Glasgow Rangers and beat Unirea Urziceni 3-1. In the Bundesliga they are currently only 9th though they have won five of their last six games including Saturday’s 1-5 win at Cologne. Coach Cristian Gross will have midfielder Sami Khedira back though Arthur Boka is out injured. There are not many familiar names in Stuttgart’s squad though we all remember Alex Hleb from his disappointing season at Barça while in goal they have Jens Lehmann, possibly the maddest goalkeeper around, who will want revenge after being sent off in the 2006 Champions League final when Barça beat Arsenal 2-1 in Paris. We met Stuttgart two seasons ago in the group stage and we won comfortably 0-2 in Stuttgart ( Report ) with goals from Puyol and Messi, and then won the return 3-1 at Camp Nou ( Report ) with Giovani dos Santos, Eto’o and Ronaldinho grabbing the goals, and I would be surprised if we come away with anything less than a victory tomorrow. The local press in Barcelona seem to think Guardiola will go with the same team that beat Racing 4-0 on Saturday with the exception of Ibrahimovic who should return in place of Bojan Krkic. We have a possible 22 games remaining this season if we go all the way in the Champions League and this game should be seen as the beginning of the final run in. There is little room now for mistakes if we want to add some more trophies to the six won already under Pep Guardiola. Winning La Liga would of course be fantastic, but this season the Champions League would be very special as we would be the first team since the European Cup became the Champions League to win on two consecutive seasons, and there would be nothing sweeter than to achieve this in the stadium of our greatest rivals Real Madrid. Barça’s 20-man squad: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Bartra, Puyol, Maxwell, Piqué, Milito, Marquez, Toure, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Jonathan dos Santos, Jeffren, Messi, Bojan, Pedro, Ibrahimovic, Henry. Possible starting XIs: Stuttgart: (4-4-2) Lehmann; Celozzi, Delpierro, Tasci, Molinaro; Träsch, Khedira, Gebhart, Hleb; Marica, Pogrebnyak. Barça: (4-3-3) Valdés; Puyol, Marquez, Piqué, Maxwell; Busquets, Toure, Iniesta; Messi, Ibrahimovic, Henry. My prediction: Stuttgart 1 Barça 3 
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Champions League Preview: Stuttgart – Barça

It’s back to the Champions League tomorrow night with the first leg of the last 16 at Stuttgart. Pep Guardiola has taken twenty players on the trip though that includes Xavi Hernandez and Dani Alves who still haven’t received medical clearance and seem unlikely to start the game. We are still without Eric Abidal and Seydou Keita but Zlatan Ibrahimovic should be fit to play, while Johnathan dos Santos and Marc Bartra from Barça Atletic have been included to make up the numbers. Stuttgart qualified for the last 16 from the same group as Sevilla though they did nothing very much to impress. In their three home games they lost 1-3 to Sevilla, drew 1-1 with Glasgow Rangers and beat Unirea Urziceni 3-1. In the Bundesliga they are currently only 9th though they have won five of their last six games including Saturday’s 1-5 win at Cologne. Coach Cristian Gross will have midfielder Sami Khedira back though Arthur Boka is out injured. There are not many familiar names in Stuttgart’s squad though we all remember Alex Hleb from his disappointing season at Barça while in goal they have Jens Lehmann, possibly the maddest goalkeeper around, who will want revenge after being sent off in the 2006 Champions League final when Barça beat Arsenal 2-1 in Paris. We met Stuttgart two seasons ago in the group stage and we won comfortably 0-2 in Stuttgart ( Report ) with goals from Puyol and Messi, and then won the return 3-1 at Camp Nou ( Report ) with Giovani dos Santos, Eto’o and Ronaldinho grabbing the goals, and I would be surprised if we come away with anything less than a victory tomorrow. The local press in Barcelona seem to think Guardiola will go with the same team that beat Racing 4-0 on Saturday with the exception of Ibrahimovic who should return in place of Bojan Krkic. We have a possible 22 games remaining this season if we go all the way in the Champions League and this game should be seen as the beginning of the final run in. There is little room now for mistakes if we want to add some more trophies to the six won already under Pep Guardiola. Winning La Liga would of course be fantastic, but this season the Champions League would be very special as we would be the first team since the European Cup became the Champions League to win on two consecutive seasons, and there would be nothing sweeter than to achieve this in the stadium of our greatest rivals Real Madrid. Barça’s 20-man squad: Valdés, Pinto, Alves, Bartra, Puyol, Maxwell, Piqué, Milito, Marquez, Toure, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Jonathan dos Santos, Jeffren, Messi, Bojan, Pedro, Ibrahimovic, Henry. Possible starting XIs: Stuttgart: (4-4-2) Lehmann; Celozzi, Delpierro, Tasci, Molinaro; Träsch, Khedira, Gebhart, Hleb; Marica, Pogrebnyak. Barça: (4-3-3) Valdés; Puyol, Marquez, Piqué, Maxwell; Busquets, Toure, Iniesta; Messi, Ibrahimovic, Henry. My prediction: Stuttgart 1 Barça 3 
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