Champions look to outpass German challenge at home
Bayer Leverkusen face what looks to be the near-impossible task of putting three goals past Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Wednesday and to do so they will need to dethrone the undisputed passing kings of Europe.
Holders Barca, who won last month's Champions League last-16 first leg in Leverkusen 3-1, have conceded just five goals in 13 home La Liga games this season and let in only two at the Nou Camp in their three group matches in Europe's elite competition.
A big reason opponents find it so difficult to score against Pep Guardiola's side is that they rarely go a game without having the ball for at least 70 percent of the time, their mesmerising passing game grinding teams into submission.
"The fact that it is a tough prospect is clear to all of us but it's not over until it's over, as the saying goes, and we'll wait and see what happens," Leverkusen forward Stefan Kiessling said in an interview on the club's website (www.bayer04.de).
Kiessling scored in a 2-0 win against Bayern Munich on Saturday - their third straight league success.
Barca, missing the suspended Messi, had Gerard Pique sent off just after halftime at home to Sporting Gijon on Saturday but managed to win 3-1 thanks to goals from Andres Iniesta, Seydou Keita and Xavi.
"First of all we have to play a good game, there will be 4,000 fans coming with us to Barcelona and whether we get through or not we owe it to them to play well," said Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt.
Swiss forward Eren Derdiyok has recovered from an injury while Barca will be without Alexis Sanchez, who scored twice in the first leg, and fullback Eric Abidal picked up a groin injury last week.
Cypriots gear up to test Lyon mettle
Nicosia: Cyprus will be collectively holding its breath on Wednesday hoping minnows APOEL can cause a huge Champions League shock when they seek to turn around a one goal deficit to Lyon at the GSP stadium in Nicosia.
Ever since the draw for the last 16 was made, APOEL were hopeful the tie would be decided at home and the fixture is set up perfectly with the Cypriots only trailing 1-0 from the first leg.
For underdogs APOEL to achieve the unthinkable and progress to the last eight it would be the biggest sporting success story in a very thin volume of international glory.
"The boys have made us proud to reach the last 16 but they have a chance to progress and with the fans behind them it will be a different game at home," former Cyprus international Andreas Stylianou said. "It's the biggest game in Cypriot sport, we never dreamt a Cyprus club could come this far."