The Chaaaaaaaampiooooooooooons is back! Barcelona's quest to back-to-back European Cup trophies begins on Wednesday, when the Treble winners face Italian Serie A runners-up AS Roma in what promises to be a very exciting UEFA Champions League debut at a sold-out Stadio Olimpico.
Tactics always matter, so let's have a look at the potential lineups both coaches might field in Rome:
Florenzi - Rüdiger - Manolas - Digné
Nainggolan - De Rossi - Keita
Salah - Dzeko - Iago Falqué
Coach Rudi García saw his squad get way stronger over the summer, and the starting eleven we'll probably see on Wednesday will be very different from the one that got killed by Barça at Camp Nou in last month's Joan Gamper Trophy. Lucas Digné's loan from Paris Saint-Germain adds a true upgrade over Ashley Cole at left-back, and Edin Dzeko will be a dangerous striker in this Blaugrana-esque system. Former Chelsea winger Mohamed Salah and former Barça youth player Iago Falqué will play alongside the Bosnian. Another Bosnian that will not feature is Miralem Pjanic, unable to play due to injury.
The biggest problem on this team is its defense: other than Digné, all other defenders, including former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech, are mediocre at best, and the center-back pairing of Antonio Rüdiger and Kostas Manolas is definitely the map to find plenty of chances for Barça. What about Francesco Totti, the club's biggest legend? He's on a pitch count since last season, and he's likely to be on the bench and try to enter the game and surpass his own record of the oldest player to score a Champions League goal.
Roberto - Piqué - Mascherano - Alba
Rakitic - Busquets - Iniesta
Messi - Suárez - Neymar
If it wasn't for the absence of injured full-back Dani Alves, we would get to see the Gala XI for the first time. But the Brazilian is still several days away from his return, so Sergi Roberto will once again fill in at right-back. No problem, because the Spaniard seems to have found his position, and he looks better and more comfortable at that position in every game. Right beside him, Gerard Piqué is free to play since his suspension only applies to domestic matches, and there's no reason to think he won't play.
The midfield of Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta is likely to be maintained after their combined great performance in last weekend's win over Atlético Madrid. And the 'MSN' trio is certain to start, with Lionel Messi set for 90 minutes after being on the bench for the first half of the Calderón game. Neymar Jr. is looking more fit with each training session and extra playing time, while Luis Suárez will be looking to find his scoring boots after a slight drought. This is the strongest available lineup right now, and it should be enough to leave Rome with a good debut win.