Barca look to extend winning streak as Liverpool face Genk - GulfToday

Barca look to extend winning streak as Liverpool face Genk

Barca look to extend winning  streak as Liverpool face Genk

Barcelona players attend a training session ahead of their Champions League match against Slavia Prague. Reuters

A resilient Barcelona will look to extend their five-game winning momentum going when they take minnows Slavia Prague in a Champions League tie on Wednesday.

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann were on target as Ernesto Valverde’s men eased past Eibar 3-0 amid the political turmoil around them on Saturday.

Their fifth straight competitive win across all the competition — including a 2-1 victory over Inter Milan in their last Champions League game — took them to the top of Spanish League, a point ahead of Real Madrid.

Last week the two Spanish giants agreed to postpone the Clasico, which would have been a showdown for the top league spot, from next Saturday to December because of the protests in Catalonia.

In a much calmer Prague, reigning Czech champions Slavia came back from a goal down to see off minnows Pribram 3-1 on Saturday to secure a six-point lead in the Czech top flight.

Aftre the two games, the Spanish giants are in the second spot with four points following a win and draw behind Group F leaders Dortmund who are on the top on goal difference.

While Slavia sit at the bottom with a single point after holding Inter to a 1-1 draw in Milan and a subsequent 2-0 loss to Dortmund at home.

Barcelona relished their attacking form after the Eibar clash, giving Slavia a cause for concern.

“There will be better or worse days, but we are getting to know each other little by little and we will go to more,” Griezmann said after the game.

“Great players always understand each other and always meet. In the end, with time and with matches they will still find more and better,” added coach Valverde.

An underdog in Wednesday’s clash, Slavia are silently building up their confidence, pinning hopes on physical style and tireless pressing promoted by coach Jindrich Trpisovsky.

Last season, the giant-killers eliminated Sevilla from the Europa League before bowing out at the hands of Chelsea in the quarter-finals.

“We’ll go to the pitch knowing we can succeed,” said defensive midfielder Tomas Soucek, the Slavia captain.

“We want at least a point, we have proved we can face the giants and I believe we’ll give them a hard time at home,” added goalkeeper Ondrej Kolar.

The Czechs remember Barca’s last match in Prague where they were hosted by Viktoria Pilsen in the Champions League in 2011. Barcelona won 4-0 as Messi scored a hat-trick.

“There are many players who can score, they all have a fantastic finish,” said Kolar.

“We know how strong they are, particularly Messi, his left foot is exceptional and I think you can’t really get ready for that.” Soucek hailed Barca’s “three unbelievable forwards” Suarez, Messi and Griezmann.

“It’s funny to think that we’ll swap the pennants with Messi and play against all these players,” he said.

Barcelona, who took a day off Sunday before resuming training on Monday, will miss Sergi Roberto, who hurt his left knee at Eibar. Gerard Pique is likely to return to the team following a ban.

Meanwhile, Belgium’s Genk will pin hopes on their African superstar Mbwana Ally Samatta’s aghainst their much-fancied rivals Liverpool.

Liverpool hope to have Mohamed Salah back alongside Sadio Mane in attack in time for Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with Genk in Belgium as they press hard to defend the title.

Samatta’s rich haul of 23 league goals last season helped fire the unfashionable club from an old mining hub in the Dutch-speaking north of Belgium to the title and a also guaranteed a spot in the Europe’s leading club competition.

The 26-year-old then became the first Tanzanian to play in the Champions League and marked the occasion by scoring on an otherwise miserable night for Genk as they lost 6-2 in Salzburg in their Group E opener.

Having held Napoli to a 0-0 draw at home, they are relishing the challenge of springing a surprise against European powerhouse in Wednesday’s clash.

“Some people thought it might be very difficult for us against Napoli but we could have won that game so we will see. We will give everything at home,” said Genk coach Felice Mazzu at the weekend.

Despite trading their top players during the transfer window, Genk have retained Samatta albeit a lot of top European clubs showed their interest in the playmaker including the lies of the Dynamo Moscow, who offered around 10 million euros.


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