This Tuesday, 14 September, Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona kick off their Champions League season with a home game against six-time winners, Bayern Munich, managed by Julian Nagelsmann. In what is traditionally a rare sight – though will be an increasingly common phenomenon this season – Barcelona go into the game as underdogs. A new era is underway at Camp Nou and their young, relatively inexperienced squad will have everything to prove against a serial winning Munich side that won the Champions League in 2020. Here is the preview ahead of Barcelona v Bayern Munich.
Barcelona v Bayern Munich Preview
Sergiño Dest was an unfortunate casualty of the international break. He sustained a sprained ankle and though he is unlikely to start the game against Bayern, he might just make the bench. Sergio Agüero and Ousmane Dembélé are both out of action until October, with calf and ankle injuries, respectively.
New number 10, Ansu Fati, is out and also not expected to return util October. Martin Braithwaite, too, is out of action and is not expected back until December. Injuries may play a part in Barcelona’s undoing on Tuesday. However, they are blessed with squad depth and a vast array of young talent raring to go for an opportunity.
Bayern Munich have fared much better with injuries so far this season, with Kingsley Coman the only confirmed casualty thus far. His calf injury sustained during international duty, however, might not rule him out of the game entirely. During Bayern’s game against RB Leipzig at the weekend, both Serge Gnabry and Lewandowski were subjected to precautionary substitutions and are likely to play a role in Spain. However, it must be noted that Gnabry is far less likely to start than Lewandowski, with a presumably minor back injury being sustained. Bayern also have the luxury of tremendous squad depth, so they should be good to go on Tuesday in a game they are widely expected to win.
The indefatigable German goalkeeper, Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, is certain to start between the posts. A familiar back four of Sergi Roberto, Ronald Araujo, the returning Gerard Piqué and long-time left back, Jordi Alba, will likely start. The increasingly familiar midfield trio of Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong and Pedri will form the triangle. With Philippe Coutinho back in training, expect to see him return with Memphis Depay in the wide attacking positions. The injuries of Agüero and Braithwaite, plus the exit of Antoine Griezmann, mean you can expect new signing, Luuk de Jong, to lead the attack and complete this starting 11. Overall, Barcelona head into the game with an enviable blend of youth and experience, which they will hope to make use of.
As for Bayern, they’ll be relying on their own German goalkeeper in the form of the legendary Manuel Neuer. Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez will be returning to the back four alongside Upamecano and the ultra-talented young Canadian left-back, Alphonso Davies. Joshua Kimmick and Leon Goretzka will play in the traditional holding-midfield roles, whilst Leroy Sane and Thomas Müller could be joined by young Jamal Musiala, should Gnabry indeed miss the starting 11.
With talisman Lewandowski rumored to be fit enough to go, it would not be wise to rule him out of the Camp Nou visit, such is his importance to Bayern. This current Bayern side is one of the most successful outfits in the world today and it comes as no surprise that this line-up is expected to dominate Barcelona.
Barcelona v Bayern Munich: Predictions
As mentioned earlier, Barcelona are pretty heavy underdogs going into this game. Their youthful inexperience and well-documented financial woes has left a fog of negative pessimism surrounding the club. However, it is never wise to fully count Barcelona out – they remain one of the biggest clubs in the world and are still blessed with tremendous amounts of talent at the club. Though Bayern Munich certainly come into this game with every chance of a heavy victory, we are going to go against this mold and predict a 2-2; a thrilling draw leaving both sets of fans relatively happy.
Embed from Getty Images