Stuttgart vs. Barcelona
Mercedes-Benz Arena, Stuttgart
Tuesday February 23, 2010 at 2:45PM EST
by Jason Green at Predictem.com
Match Odds: Barcelona 1.65 / Stuttgart 5.00 / Draw 3.50
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Moneyline: Barcelona -166 / Stuttgart +400 / Draw +285
On Tuesday night in Germany, Stuttgart hosts defending Champions League winner Barcelona. Even though Stuttgart is only in 9th place in the Bundesliga they have begun to play well after winning only 2 wins in their first 15 matches. Luckily, they were in a weak Champions League group with Rangers, Sevilla, and Unirea Urziceni. They changed coaches before the New Year and have won 6 of their last 8 matches, but beating Barcelona will be no easy task.
Barcelona is still in 1st place in La Liga, but they are not at top form. They lost a little over a week ago to Atletico Madrid, but they came back with a 4-0 win in their last match over Racing Santander.
Barca has been hard hit by injuries as of late and that may hurt them in this match. Captain Carles Puyol thinks they can still improve recently stating, “We are always very demanding of ourselves and ask if we are capable of more because the coach knows that we can do better. We were perhaps not brilliant but we were practical, but we can still give more.”
Barcelona did not qualify for the knockout phase with ease, but they are in the last 16 and if you check out all the online sportsbooks they are the odds-on favorite to win it all for a 2nd year in a row.
This season in their domestic leagues Barcelona has scored 57 goals and given up 13 goals and Stuttgart has scored 32 goals and given up 30 goals.
Stuttgart Recent Form:
2/20/2010 FC Koln 1 Stuttgart 5 (Bundesliga)
2/13/2010 Stuttgart 1 Hamburg 3 (Bundesliga)
2/6/2010 Nuremburg 1 Stuttgart 2 (Bundesliga)
1/31/2010 Stuttgart 4 Borussia Dortmund 1 (Bundesliga)
1/22/2010 Freiburg 0 Stuttgart 1 (Bundesliga)
Barcelona Recent Form:
2/20/2010 Barcelona 4 Racing Santander 0 (La Liga)
2/14/2010 Atletico Madrid 2 Barcelona 1 (La Liga)
2/6/2010 Barcelona 2 Gatafe 1 (L Liga)
1/30/2010 Sporting de Gijon 0 Barcelona 1 (La Liga)
1/23/2010 Valladolid 0 Barcelona 3 (La Liga)
For Stuttgart Boka has a shoulder injury and will likely not play in this match. Sami Khedira did not play in the win over Koln this last weekend, but he may be ready to play in this big match.
The injury bug has hit Barcelona hard and that may help Stuttgart. Eric Abidal and Seydou Keita will probably not play, but the big news is that striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is doubtful due to an ankle injury. A couple of the big guns that have missed times as of late are Xavi and Daniel Alves, but both of these two are on the squad for the trip to Germany. However, Dimitro Chygrynskiy will not play in this match due to a suspension. Eric Abidal and Seydou Keita are likely to miss this match due to minor injuries.
Stuttgart really will attack in this game, as they really need a home win and a draw will really not help them that much. A lot of the offensive pressure for the German squad will fall on Brazilian striker Cacau. Even though he has played well as season look for Barcelona’s defense to contain him.
The Stuttgart defense has really been up and down this season and they will have to key on Lionel Messi and that will leave the other Barca players, especially in the midfield, open for the attack.
Barcelona has a superior midfield and they will win this match controlling the pitch and setting up a goal or two if not scoring themselves.
Barcelona is not at full strength for this match, but they still have too much offense for the German side to handle.
Since Stuttgart really has to win this match they will press forward and that will allow Barcelona to counter attack giving them even more chances to score.
Jason’s Pick: Even though Stuttgart has been in good form as of late they simply do not have the talent that Barcelona does. This will not be a blowout on German soil, but the away side will score at least one goal, while I see Stuttgart failing to score. Look for Barcelona to win by a score of 1-0 or 2-0.