MOSCOW, Russia, November 19 – Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas had to be granted a temporary Russian visa to join his teammates in Moscow after failing a border control, ITAR-TASS news agency reported Monday.
Fabregas was held up when he arrived at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport with the Spanish giants to play the Champions League Group G match with local side Spartak on Tuesday.
Reports said that the 25-year-old Spaniard ran into trouble at passport control in the airport because he has two passports and took the wrong one on his trip to Moscow.
The footballer stayed in the airport while the rest of the team went to their Moscow hotel, before his club chiefs resolved the problem.
Barcelona travel with a prolific forward line led by Lionel Messi but concern continues about the state of their defence.
Tito Vilanova’s side have been in ruthless form in La Liga claiming 34 points from a possible 36 as they lead the way at the top of the table, while in Europe they were similarly effective in Group G but defeat away to Celtic in Glasgow means that they still have work to do as they bid to qualify in first place.
A stubborn rearguard action from Celtic earned them a memorable 2-1 victory over a side which has won the Champions League twice in the last four years.
Barca had vast amount of possession but were blocked out by a sea of green and white shirts while in defence they were opened up, sowing doubts.
Barca have suffered from a series of injuries at the back and they have already conceded 15 goals in the league.
Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique were able to play together for the first time since mid-September in the 3-1 weekend win over Zaragoza as a result of a series of injuries while regular full-backs Jordi Alba and Dani Alves have also been in the treatment room.
Defence is an area where Barca lack cover and they have resorted to fielding Javier Mascherano and Alex Song, both more comfortable in central midfield, as their regular centre-half pairing.
Puyol admits that the team needs to improve defensively.
“We have had a fantastic start – although we need to sort out the defensive situation and we are working on that. Generally the problems have been on set-plays where we have been caught out,” he said.
“I’ve gone through my worst experience in terms of injuries as this one was more painful than I thought it would be but at least as it was my arm I was able to train quickly afterwards. You have to keep positive and try to help the team.”
In attack, Barca have been in blistering form with Messi leading the way and his double against Zaragoza took his league total to 17 and it now means that he has 78 goals during this calendar year with the record of 85 set by Gerd Muller for Bayern Munich in 1972 in his sights.
Teammate Andres Iniesta felt Messi’s performance against Zaragoza was typical.
“It is what we now expect. He makes the difference as he is a one off and we can only hope that he can continues like this,” he said.
Spartak lie bottom of the group on three points and warmed up for Barca’s visit with a 1-1 draw away to Volga Novgorod after Kirill Kombarov had put them ahead.
Aleksandr Salugin brought the home side level and keeper Artem Rebrov made a series of fine saves to deny Volga the win.
Spartak manager Unay Emeri noted Movgorod were good value for their point and added that that “seriously worries me ahead of the match with Barcelona,” particularly with number one goalkeeper Andrei Dykan still out with a shoulder injury.
He joins former Everton midfielder Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, Irish international midfielder Aiden McGeady, defender Sergei Parshivlyuk and Brazilian Romulo on the sidelines.
Spartak will also be without their Argentinian full back Nicolas Pareja, who misses the Barcelona game after being red carded in Spartak’s previous encounter with Portugal’s Benfica.