Barça seek show of strength

FC Barcelona are seeking a third successive home victory in the UEFA Champions League when they end their Group E campaign against bottom side VfB Stuttgart.

FC Barcelona will be seeking a third successive home victory in the UEFA Champions League when they conclude their successful Group E campaign against bottom-placed VfB Stuttgart.

• With three wins and two draws, Frank Rijkaard's team hold a four-point advantage over second-placed Rangers FC at the top of the section and so go into Matchday 6 already guaranteed their berth in the 21 December draw for the first knockout round as one of the eight group winners.

• Barcelona sealed first place on Matchday 5 thanks to the combination of their own 2-2 away draw at Olympique Lyonnais and Stuttgart's 3-2 home victory against Rangers.

• The Spanish side led twice at Lyon, scoring through Andrés Iniesta (three minutes) and a Lionel Messi penalty (58). Yet Juninho denied them victory by equalising twice on seven and 80 minutes, the latter goal from the penalty spot.

• Ciprian Marica's 85th-minute strike against Rangers, meanwhile, brought Stuttgart their first points of a hitherto unhappy campaign. After trailing to Charlie Adam's 27th-minute opener, Stuttgart hit back through Cacau (45) and Pável Pardo (62) and although Barry Ferguson (70) then made it 2-2, Marica made sure the fans at the Gottlieb-Daimler stadium finally had something to celebrate.

• While the German champions have been unable to repeat their achievement of progressing to the last 16 in 2003/04, Barcelona have made it through for the fourth season running.

• Barcelona opened their campaign with a 3-0 home victory against Lyon and subsequently won 2-0 at Stuttgart on Matchday 2 courtesy of goals from Carles Puyol (53) and Messi (67). Following a goalless draw at Rangers, Rijkaard's men got the better of the same opponents at home on Matchday 4, winning 2-0.

• Prior to beating Rangers, Stuttgart had suffered four straight losses in Group E – their worst sequence of results in UEFA club competition. They surrendered the lead given to them by Mario Gómez in succumbing 2-1 at Rangers on Matchday 1 and after then losing to Barcelona, things got even worse with defeats both at home (0-2) and away (2-4) against Lyon.

• Barcelona's record at Camp Nou against German opposition reads 13 wins, one draw and five defeats from 19 games played.

• The Blaugrana have won their last five home meetings with Bundesliga teams. The most recent German winners there were FC Bayern München, who prevailed 2-1 in a group stage game in November 1998.

• It was against German opposition in the form of Fortuna Düsseldorf that Barcelona won the first of their four UEFA Cup Winners' Cups, triumphing 4-3 in the 1978/79 final.

• Barcelona's two previous UEFA Super Cup victories also came against German sides. They beat Werder Bremen 3-2 on aggregate in the 1992 edition, then overcame BV Borussia Dortmund 3-1 on aggregate in 1997 – winning the home leg on both occasions.

• Prior to facing Barcelona this season, Stuttgart's three previous meetings with Spanish opposition had all come in the UEFA Cup.

• They have never won in Spain, although their 1-0 defeat at Real Sociedad de Fútbol in the 1988/89 UEFA Cup quarter-finals was followed by a 4-2 shoot-out triumph after the tie finished 1-1 on aggregate. Stuttgart later registered a 0-0 draw at CA Osasuna in the second round in 1991/92 (aggregate 2-3), and a 2-1 reverse at RC Celta de Vigo in the fourth round in 2000/01 (aggregate 1-2).

• As coach of the Netherlands, Rijkaard twice faced Germany in friendly games, winning one and drawing one. As a Dutch international, he played against Germany five times, winning two matches, drawing two and losing one.

• In his club career, Rijkaard struck against German opposition on his first appearance in UEFA competition, scoring in a 2-1 victory for AFC Ajax against Bayern in the European Champion Clubs' Cup on 5 November 1980. His overall record against German sides with both Ajax and AC Milan was five wins, two draws and one defeat.

• Barcelona's Mexico defender Rafael Márquez is an international team-mate of Stuttgart midfielder Pável Pardo and the pair were also club colleagues at Guadalajara side CF Atlas between 1996 and 1998.

• Barcelona's Ivorian midfielder Yaya Touré, meanwhile, played with Stuttgart left-back Arthur Boka at Belgian club KSK Beveren, Boka following in the former's footsteps 12 months after Touré left their old club ASEC Abidjan to try his luck in Belgium in 2001. The pair were team-mates at Beveren until 2004.

• A third pair of old pals reunited by this fixture are Barcelona defender Eric Abidal and Stuttgart's Matthieu Delpierre, who played together at LOSC Lille Métropole between 2003 and 2004.

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