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Messi-less Barcelona stick to their principles

"Leo Messi is irreplaceable," said Luis Enrique as Barcelona prepare to take on Leverkusen without their "best player", but the coach is set on playing the same way regardless.

Luis Suárez in training ahead of the Leverkusen game
Luis Suárez in training ahead of the Leverkusen game ©AFP/Getty Images
  • Injured Lionel Messi is "irreplaceable", says Luis Enrique
  • Barcelona determined to play the same without talisman
  • Adriano confirmed as absent on day of match
  • Hosts expecting strong defensive performance from Leverkusen
  • Barcelona crushed Leverkusen 7-1 at the Camp Nou in 2012

Possible lineups
Barcelona:
Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets; Rakitić, Iniesta; Neymar, Suárez, Munir.
Out: Vermaelen (calf), Rafinha (knee), Messi (knee), Adriano (thigh), Claudio Bravo (calf)

Leverkusen: Leno; Donati, Papadopoulos, Tah, Wendell; Bender, Kramer, Bellarabi, Hakan Çalhanoğlu; Hernández, Kiessling.
Out: Jedvaj (thigh), Ömer Toprak (thigh), Aránguiz (achilles)
Doubtful: Hilbert (knee)

Luis Enrique, Barcelona coach
Bayer Leverkusen defend pretty well – they are very strong physically and they put in a good performance in this competition last season. Bayer are a bit different to the rest of the Bundesliga teams, so it is going to be a tricky match.

Leo Messi is irreplaceable. We have to try and play the same way with different players, and the challenge of being competitive without our best player is an attractive one for us. Jordi Alba and Claudio Bravo will be available and we will see whether they will play.

©UEFA.com

Roger Schmidt, Leverkusen coach
Bayern have some similarities to Barcelona but I think there are some differences too. I don't think having played against Bayern helps us now against Barcelona. We will do our best and we have faith in our abilities, which are to play compactly in defence and to attack with a lot of precision.

We will try to score a goal. If we are able to score we can get something positive here. Roberto Hilbert has done individual training with good results in the last two days so he will probably be on the team sheet.

Weekend results
Barcelona 2-1 Las Palmas (Suárez 25 54; Viera 88)
Barcelona moved above Real Madrid into second, but Lionel Messi's knee injury sustained in the fourth minute will keep him out for seven to eight weeks.

Kevin Kampl training on Monday
Kevin Kampl training on Monday©Getty Images

Werder Bremen 0-3 Leverkusen (Mehmedi 31, Brandt 58, Kampl 65)
Leverkusen are up to fifth after goals from Admir Mehmedi, Julian Brandt and Kevin Kampl secured a second away league win of the campaign.

Form guide (all competitions, most recent first)
Barcelona: WLWDWW
Leverkusen: WWLWLL

Reporter's view: Graham Hunter
Cometh the moment, cometh the team. Because 'the man' ain't there. Lionel Messi's knee ligament injury is bad for the neutrals who simply adore seeing him play, but not necessarily such bad news a club like Bayer Leverkusen, visiting the Camp Nou for the first time since losing 7-1 there in this competition three years ago – mostly at Messi's hands. Or feet. Time for the rest of Luis Enrique's European champions to step up in the Argentinian's absence. And an opportunity perhaps for Lars Bender and company ...

Did you know?
Messi did something rather special when these sides met at this venue in 2011/12; find out more in our extensive match background.

Watch Messi's exploits against Leverkusen in 2012
Watch Messi's exploits against Leverkusen in 2012