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Gross out to avoid Barcelona repeat

VfB Stuttgart face a potentially awkward evening in the home leg of their last-16 tie against European champions FC Barcelona but the last person who needs telling is home coach Christian Gross.

Gross out to avoid Barcelona repeat
Gross out to avoid Barcelona repeat ©UEFA.com

VfB Stuttgart coach Christian Gross will hope lightning does not strike twice when he welcomes holders FC Barcelona to Germany for the first leg of this UEFA Champions League first knockout round encounter.

• Gross saw Stuttgart book their last-16 place with a 3-1 win against FC Unirea Urziceni in his first game in December, but getting the better of Barcelona will prove more demanding. It is a challenge the Swiss coach should be well aware of, having lost 5-0 at home to the Catalan club with FC Basel 1893 last season.

• Stuttgart will be high on motivation – not least midfielder Aleksandr Hleb, who is on loan from Barcelona – but enter the contest as definite underdogs. Group F winners Barcelona are unbeaten in nine away matches in the UEFA Champions League. They have also avoided defeat on their last six visits to Germany so Stuttgart must upset the odds to advance to their first quarter-final of any European club competition since 1998.

Previous meetings
• Barcelona recorded home and away wins against Stuttgart when the clubs met in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2007/08.

• The Spanish side prevailed 2-0 in the first encounter in Germany on 2 October 2007, Carles Puyol (53) and Lionel Messi (67) the scorers.

• The lineups were:
: Schäfer, Osorio (Marica 63), Tasci, Meira, Boka, Pardo, Hilbert, Farnerud (Magnin 76), Khedira (Meissner 76), Gómez, Cacau.
: Valdés, Oleguer, Thuram, Márquez (Puyol 7; Sylvinho 64), Abidal, Iniesta, Xavi, Deco, Messi, Henry, Ronaldinho (Bojan 27).

• Stuttgart struck first in the return fixture on 12 December, Antonio Da Silva giving them a third-minute lead, but Barcelona hit back to win 3-1 through goals from Giovani Dos Santos (36), Samuel Eto'o (57) and Ronaldinho (67). Barcelona finished top of the group and Stuttgart bottom.

Match background
• Stuttgart will hope for more than they managed against Barcelona's Liga rivals Sevilla FC in the group stage. They lost 3-1 to the Andalusian club at home on 20 October before earning a 1-1 draw in Spain on 4 November through Zdravko Kuzmanović's 79th-minute equaliser.

• Stuttgart also travelled to Sevilla in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage, losing 2-0.

• They have won just one of eleven previous meetings with Spanish sides – a 1-0 home success against Real Sociedad de Fútbol in the first leg of the 1988/89 UEFA Cup quarter-final. It was their first encounter with Liga opposition and they eventually advanced on penalties after losing the return by the same scoreline.

• Barcelona's last six trips to Germany have yielded four wins and two draws. Their most recent visit was for last term's quarter-final second leg against FC Bayern München, where a 1-1 draw completed a 5-1 aggregate triumph.

• Barcelona beat German opposition in Fortuna Düsseldorf to win the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1979.

• Barcelona have won four and drawn five away games in the UEFA Champions League since suffering their last defeat on the road, in the 2007/08 semi-final at Manchester United FC.

Team ties
• After Gross's Basel side had gone down 5-0 at home to Barcelona in last season's group stage, they recovered some pride with a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou.

• The Stuttgart coach's overall record in the competition against Spanish sides, with Basel and previously Grasshopper-Club, is: W1 D2 L5. That solitary victory came against RC Deportivo La Coruña in the 2002/03 second group stage, 1-0 in Switzerland.

• Barcelona coach Josep Guardiola's first four appearances in Europe's premier club competition as a player came against German opposition in FC Hansa Rostock and 1. FC Kaiserslautern in autumn 1991. Barça, that season's eventual winners, won both home legs but lost both away.

• Hleb joined Stuttgart on a season-long loan from Barcelona last summer, having made 19 league appearances for the Catalan side in 2008/09.

• Hleb and Jens Lehmann were in the Arsenal FC team that lost the 2006 UEFA Champions League final to Barcelona, together with current Blaugrana forward Thierry Henry. Lehmann became the first player sent off in a European Champion Clubs' Cup final after bringing down Samuel Eto'o in the 18th minute.

• Lehmann was in the Germany side that lost the final of UEFA EURO 2008 to Spain. Xavi Hernández, Andrés Iniesta and Puyol featured for the opposition.

• Ciprian Marica scored the only goal of Romania's 1-0 friendly victory against Spain in Cadiz in November 2006.

• Later that same season Marica was on the losing side when FC Shakhtar Donetsk suffered a 5-4 aggregate reverse against a Sevilla team including Daniel Alves in the UEFA Cup round of 16.

• Pavel Pogrebnyak earned FC Zenit St. Petersburg an away-goals victory against Villarreal CF in the UEFA Cup round of 32 in 2007/08. He scored the only goal of Zenit's 1-0 home success and found the net in a 2-1 second-leg defeat for the eventual competition winners.

• Khalid Boulahrouz made six appearances for Sevilla during a season-long loan in 2007/08. Boulahrouz was in the Chelsea FC team that earned a 1-0 home win and 2-2 away draw with Barcelona in the 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group stage.