We can beat Barcelona, says Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel
Dortmund did not concede at home in last season's group stages, have a good record against Spanish sides
Borussia Dortmund may be facing European aristocrats Barcelona in the Champions League for the first time tomorrow morning (Singapore time), but Axel Witsel believes his side can upset the five-time European champions.
"I've never played against Barcelona, so it'll be my first time," said the Belgian midfielder ahead of his side's Group F opener.
"It'll be a tough game because it's Barcelona.
"But we have to believe, play hard, prepare for the game like it's just another Bundesliga match and give everything out on pitch. I think at home we can do it (beat Barcelona)."
The 30-year-old has cause to be bullish considering his side's form in the group stages last season, particularly at home at the cavernous Signal Iduna Park.
No team conceded fewer goals (two) and kept more clean sheets (five) in last campaign's group stage.
At home, they did not concede a single goal, and handed Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone the biggest defeat of his career with a 4-0 hammering last October.
Barcelona, meanwhile, have yet to keep a clean sheet this campaign, conceding twice in three of their opening four La Liga matches.
Talisman Lionel Messi has yet to feature after suffering a calf problem in pre-season but has been passed fit for tomorrow.
Strike partner Luis Suarez, meanwhile, has played just 67 minutes this season, scoring twice.
Olaf Thon, a former stalwart for Dortmund's arch-rivals Schalke 04, believes Lucien Favre's men are "clear favourites against Barcelona".
The former World Cup winner with Germany wrote in his column for sports magazine Kicker: "I think BVB are clear favourites against Barcelona.
"The Spanish side won 5-2 against Valencia at the weekend without Lionel Messi, but I think they are average at the moment.
"Barcelona are searching for themselves.
"This is a big chance for Borussia to begin the Champions League season at home with an exclamation mark - and to gain further momentum for the title fight with Bayern (Munich) and RB Leipzig."
Spanish sides do not have a good record at Signal Iduna Park, with Dortmund losing just three of their 15 home games against La Liga opposition.
In their last seven meetings with sides from Spain, last year's Bundesliga runners-up won five, drew once and lost once.
Dortmund also have in their ranks arguably Spain's most in-form player in Paco Alcacer.
The former Barca bench-warmer has scored in every match he has played for club and country this season, racking up 10 goals in eight games.
Said Favre: "I've never experienced that. When he plays, he almost always scores."
Ahead of the meeting with his former club, Alcacer, 26, said he was treated badly by some Barcelona fans.
He told Spanish broadcaster Cadena SER: "It is difficult to play when there are players like Suarez, Neymar and Messi.
"I have respect for many people. In Barcelona, many people behaved very well.
"But many (fans) behaved very badly with me...
"As in every job, if people trust you, you give the best and if they don't trust you, you don't give it.
"It's very important for me to see that trust. In the end, many people didn't have it. In Dortmund? They treat me well, the fans are euphoric."