BATE v Barcelona: Luis Enrique makes case for the defence

Luis Enrique is hoping for a tighter defensive performance from Barcelona during the Champions League Group E trip to BATE.

Having suffered two La Liga defeats in their previous three outings, the Spanish champions got their title defence back on track with a 5-2 win over Rayo Vallecano at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

Brazil captain Neymar dazzled with four goals but his heroics came after the visitors went ahead through Javi Guerra.

Barca began the Liga campaign with back-to-back 1-0 wins over Athletic Bilbao and Malaga but they have conceded in each of their eight games across all competitions since the latter of those two victories on August 29.

"We're going to keep working on our defence," Luis Enrique told reporters. 

"To win titles, you have to score more goals and give up less and that's what we're working on."

One man who could add to the Catalan giants' defensive efforts is Thomas Vermaelen.

The Belgium international endured an injury nightmare during his first year with Barcelona last season, playing just 63 minutes in La Liga.

Making his fourth start in all competitions this time around at Atletico Madrid last month, Vermaelen sustained a calf injury.

Despite being back in training before the Rayo match, Luis Enrique elected not to risk the former Arsenal defender but will assess him once more before the encounter in Minsk.

Lionel Messi, Rafinha (both knee) and Andres Iniesta (hamstring) remain unavailable for the visitors.

BATE recovered from a 4-1 thrashing in the opening game of the round-robin stage to stun Roma with a 3-2 triumph last time out.

Irrespective of how they fare from this point onwards, Aleksandr Yermakovich can look forward to another crack at Europe's premier competition next season after claiming their 10th successive Belarussian title.

A 2-0 win over Vitebsk on Friday gave BATE an unassailable lead over second-placed neighbours Dinamo Minsk with three games of the campaign remaining.

Forward Dzmitry Mozolewski will hope to feature against Barca having completed the scoring in the title-clincher – his first action at the end of an injury nightmare that began in September 2013.

Yermakovich told reporters: "I'm happy that our efforts give us good results.

"I'm very glad for Dmitri Mozolevski, who scored a beautiful goal. I hope there won't be these long pauses in his career in the future."

BATE chairman Anatoli Kapski added: "For me, the hero of the day is Dmitri Mozolevski. He hasn't played football for more than two years but has coped with everything, which only a very strong person could do."

BATE duo Vitali Rodionov (knee) and Maksim Zhavnerchik (ankle) will miss out.

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