FC Barcelona vs FC Bayern Munich
Competition/Round: 2021-22 UEFA Champions League, Group E, Matchday 1
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Ansu Fati, Sergio Agüero, Ousmane Dembélé, Martin Braithwaite (out), Jordi Alba, Sergiño Dest (doubt)
Bayern Outs & Doubts: Corentin Tolisso (out), Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman (doubt)
Date/Time: Tuesday, September 14, 2021, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Wednesday)
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Michael Oliver (ENG)
VAR: Stuart Attwell (ENG)
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 an extended international break due to the postponement of their match against Sevilla, Barcelona finally return to action for a big one: the Champions League group stage opener against 2020 champions Bayern Munich at the Greatest Stadium on Earth.
Barça come into this one with several injury issues. Basically the entire forward line is out, with only Memphis Depay and new signing Luuk De Jong available to play. Ronald Koeman started the season with a 4-3-3 formation but might be forced into a change of system simply due to the lack of fit-enough attacking options, which might be a good thing for this one.
The Blaugrana will face one of the world’s best teams, a team that gave Barça their worst-ever defeat in the 2020 Champions League quarterfinals, a 8-2 destruction that the Catalans are yet to fully recover from. Most of that scary Bayern team is back, and new manager Julian Nagelsmann is starting to make his mark.
The good news for Barça, if any, is that they will have the fitness advantage over Bayern. Not having to play at the weekend gave the squad an extra bit of rest, and since Bayern play with plenty of intensity the Blaugrana could be the fitter team in the latter stages. Surviving the early onslaught from the visitors will be key, and containing Robert Lewandowski is the most crucial piece of the puzzle if Barça manage to pull off the upset.
Yes, even at Camp Nou, there is no doubt Bayern are the favorites. They have the better team and the better coach, and it’ll take an outstanding performance from the players and the sideline for Barça to win this one. It’s hard to trust Ronald Koeman in big games because Barça haven’t won one yet with the Dutchman in charge, and he must step up and put the team in position to be successful.
I’m expecting a big game from the in-form Memphis Depay, and the hope is that the rest of the team can follow his lead, play together and show that there is still a great team in there. Somewhere.
Barcelona (3-5-2): Ter Stegen; Araujo, Piqué, Lenglet; Roberto, De Jong, Busquets, Pedri, Alba; L. De Jong, Memphis
Bayern (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Süle, Upamecano, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Musiala, Müller, Sané; Lewandowski
I’m terrified of Bayern and I don’t trust Koeman, so this is as optimistic as I can get: 2-2 draw.