The Roma striker Mirko Vucinic is intent on revenge when his side take on the Group A surprise package Cluj. Shockwaves reverberated around Europe back in September when Champions League debutants Cluj announced their arrival in style, pulling off one of the biggest shocks in the competition's history to defeat the Serie A giants in the Italian capital. The result highlighted a dismal start to the season for Roma following a defeat and a draw in their opening Serie A fixtures.
Life did not get much better at the capital club and coach Luciano Spalletti's job was hanging by a thread a few weeks ago. Roma have started to turn things around of late though and recorded their first away league win at the weekend with an emphatic 3-0 triumph at Lecce, but Vucinic remains wary of a side who caused them so many problems at the beginning of the season. "Cluj are a strong team," he said. "They won in Rome but we will travel to Romania focused to win.
"I'm expecting a very heated atmosphere because they are not in the Champions League every year. The people will all be at the stadium to support Cluj. "In football it's possible to lose and win against anyone. Unfortunately we lost at home and it taught us a lesson. I'm not expecting us to drop more points tonight." Barcelona could welcome back Lionel Messi as they chase a top-placed finish in Group C against Sporting Lisbon, although the Catalan club insist they are not reliant on the Argentina playmaker.
The clash is between two sides who have already qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, and Barca, who are a point clear of Sporting, would guarantee themselves top spot with a victory at the Jose Alvalade stadium. Without Messi, 21, Barca could only draw 1-1 against Getafe at the Nou Camp, ending a run of nine successive league wins. It is not the first time they have struggled without Messi, but club president Joan Laporta is adamant the team are not dependent on any one player.
"It is not only about Leo and Andres Iniesta [who is also out injured], who are important and give a lot to the side, but the key thing is the team" he said. "The key thing is the team." Goalkeeper Victor Valdes added: "When he [Messi] doesn't play the team undoubtedly notice it. But any of our players has the quality to contribute to the team and it's best not to think if there exists any type of dependence on individuals."
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