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Barça out to maintain momentum

Published: Wednesday 26 February 2003, 9.44CET
FC Barcelona know a win at Internazionale FC will guarantee top spot in Group A.
Published: Wednesday 26 February 2003, 9.44CET

Barça out to maintain momentum

FC Barcelona know a win at Internazionale FC will guarantee top spot in Group A.

FC Barcelona go into Matchday 10 aiming to follow the lead of AC Milan and Manchester United FC by booking their place in the last eight. The Catalan side can secure top spot in UEFA Champions League Group A with a victory in Italy against Internazionale FC, while in Amsterdam the top two side in Group B, AFC Ajax and Arsenal FC, meet.

Fantastic form
Barça's 3-0 victory against Inter in the Camp Nou on Matchday 9 created a new record of eleven consecutive Champions League wins (qualifiers included), and the Spanish side know that a draw in the Giuseppe Meazza will be enough to mathematically guarantee a quarter-final spot if Newcastle United FC to fail to win against Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

Overmars blow
Both teams will be missing key players, after Dutch winger Marc Overmars suffered a thigh muscle injury in Barcelona's 4-0 win against Real Betis Balompié at the weekend. Meanwhile, Inter must make do without Iván Cordoba and Alvaro Recoba, who begins a three-match suspension following his sending-off in Spain. Striker Hernán Crespo is still missing with a thigh injury, while Marco Materazzi, Matias Almeyda and Emre Belözoglu are also injured.

Newcastle recovery
Group A's other game pits a revitalised Newcastle against last season's finalists Leverkusen. The English team won 3-1 at Leverkusen on Matchday 9 to revive their hopes after defeats in their first two games in the section. They will be boosted by the return of talismanic striker and captain Alan Shearer after a two-game ban.

Awesome Arsenal
Group B leaders Ajax have home advantage for their game against English champions Arsenal, and will be looking to build on the point they gained in a 1-1 draw at Highbury last week. However, while Ajax were slipping to a 1-0 defeat at FC Utrecht on Sunday - a result which dented their hopes of retaining the Eredivisie title - Arsenal scored four times in the first 18 minutes at Manchester City FC and eventually ran out 5-1 winners.

Injury worries
Arsenal have a number of injury problems ahead of their visit to the Amsterdam ArenA, as Fredrik Ljungberg, Oleg Luzhny and former Ajax player Nwankwo Kanu all stayed in England, while goalkeeper David Seaman and defender Ashley Cole both missed the City game. Meanwhile, Ajax have worries about Petri Pasanen, Jelle van Damme, Rafael van der Vaart and John O'Brien. Should Van der Vaart figure, it would be his first appearance of 2003.

Win essential
Valencia CF, level with the top two on five points, play AS Roma in Spain, who know that only victory will suffice. The Italian side have lost all three of their second-group stage games, including last Tuesday's 1-0 defeat to Valencia in Rome, and Traianos Dellas, Marco Delvecchio and, most damagingly, inspirational captain Francesco Totti all missed Sunday's 2-1 defeat at Udinese Calcio in Serie A.

Aimar doubt
Valencia will be missing midfield player Miguel Angulo, while Pablo Aimar was rested with a minor calf injury for Sunday's 4-0 Primera División victory against Rayo Vallecano, a match Miroslav Djukic and Vicente missed with 'flu.

Last updated: 27/02/03 0.18CET

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