FC Bayern Munich (1st, 15pts) vs FC Barcelona (2nd, 7pts)
Competition/Round: 2021-22 UEFA Champions League, Group E, Matchday 6
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Pedri, Martin Braithwaite, Sergi Roberto, Sergio Agüero, Dani Alves (out), Jordi Alba (doubt)
Bayern Outs & Doubts: Joshua Kimmich, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka, Marcel Sabitzer, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Bouna Sarr, Josip Stanisic, Michael Cuisance (out), Lucas Hernández (doubt)
Date/Time: Wednesday, December 8, 2021, 9pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8pm GMT (UK), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Wednesday)
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Referee: Ovidiu Haţegan (ROU)
VAR: Paolo Valeri (ITA)
How to watch on TV: TUDN (USA), BT Sport 3 (UK), Canal+ Sport 4 (Nigeria), SONY TEN 2 (India), Movistar Liga de Campeones (Spain), others
Following the first loss of the Xavi Hernández era against Real Betis at the weekend, Barcelona return to action for the biggest game of the season as they play the Champions League group stage finale away to Bayern Munich in what will be an empty Allianz Arena because of Covid protocols in Germany.
After wasting the chance to guarantee qualification at home against Benfica two weeks ago, Barça have made their job very hard coming into the last game. Even though they’re in second place and two points ahead of Benfica, Barça are facing the best team in the group on the road while Benfica will host last-place Dynamo Kiev in Lisbon.
If Benfica win, which they’re expected to do, Barça have to beat Bayern to finish second. If the Portuguese somehow do not win, Barça can qualify with a draw or even a loss. On paper, Barça control their destiny and don’t need to rely on the other game. In reality, the Blaugrana’s best hope is a Dynamo Kiev upset in Portugal.
The simple truth is that Barça are gigantic underdogs and realistically have no shot to beat Bayern. The Catalans have never won at the Allianz Arena and even though the Bavarians will be missing several key players, they still have a great team and Robert Lewandowski is expected to start and will no doubt look to make Barça pay for all of his frustrations with the Ballon d’Or results last week.
Barça are playing bold, attacking, intense football under Xavi and will need to have a perfect night to have any chance. Bayern are relentless and usually unbeatable at home, and they won’t want to waste the opportunity to send Barça to the Europa League.
Nobody believes Barça can do it. The only ones who need to, however, are the players taking the pitch on Wednesday night. If they do and play like it for all 90 minutes, they can absolutely perform a miracle.
And the thing about miracles is you don’t hope for them. You don’t expect them. They just happen.
Barcelona (3-4-2-1): Ter Stegen; Araujo, Piqué, García; Dembélé, Busquets, De Jong, Alba; Nico, Gavi; Memphis
Bayern (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Süle, Upamecano, Davies; Roca, Tolisso; Musiala, Müller, Coman; Lewandowski
I’m an optimist by nature, but even I can’t summon up enough optimism to think we have anything close to a real chance in this one: 3-1 Bayern. Sorry.