Barca will not have element of surprise: Vilanova

18 September 2012 05:47

Barcelona will hold few surprises for Wednesday's opening Champions League opponents Spartak Moscow, the Catalan giants' coach Tito Vilanova said on Tuesday.

The reason Vilanova said was because Spartak coach Unai Emery crossed swords with Barcelona many times in his previous role as Valencia coach for the past four years.

Vilanova, who is in charge of his first Champions League campaign having been number two to predecessor Pep Guardiola for several years, said that Barcelona could expect a tough maiden match asd they bid to reclaim the trophy they won in 2011.

"We know Unai well, but he also knows us well," said Vilanova, who has guided Barcelona to four successive La Liga wins this term.

"Normally in the Champions League we take on teams that we don't know very well in the group stage and we have a little element of surprise.

"But with this match we don't have that," added the 44-year-old.

Vilanova, who was a workmanlike midfielder in his playing career beginning at the Barcelona B team, said that if 40-year-old Emery had been able to already impose his playing style on Spartak then Barca could expect to be harried all through the game.

"Unai never gave us any presents when he took us on," said Vilanova.

"His teams are normally characterised by pressing their opponents high up the pitch.

"He hasn't been in charge of Spartak for a long time therefore I don't know if they will play like Valencia did, but whatever the case we can expect a tough game."

Despite Barcelona being drawn in a relatively straightforward looking group - Scottish champions Celtic and Portuguese giants Benfica are the other two sides - Vilanova said previous experience taught him not to take any team lightly.

"We know that no match is easy in the Champions League," he said.

"We were made aware of that fact in 2011 when both Rubin Kazan and Copenhagen made us suffer."

Source: AFP