Barcelona against Bayern Munich. It’s become a recurring theme now, as the UEFA Champions League rolls along, for the two to face off. In better times for the Catalans, they defeated Bayern 4-0 in the 2008-09 group stage. It was a sign of great things to come, a treble to be precise, as Lionel Messi scored twice.
And in 2015, there was Lionel Messi’s iconic brace in the semifinals first leg which Barcelona won 3-0 and displayed a team that would go on to win the treble again.
But then there were demolitions supervised by the Bavarians which displayed their power. A 7-0 aggregate victory for Bayern, who would also win the treble in 2013. And there was the 8-2 blowout win that saw Bayern win their second treble.
It seems that when these two teams meet, it is always fireworks. And lately, it’s all been Bayern’s way. Last season, they defeated the blaugrana 3-0 twice in the group stage.
It’s no question that Bayern have set the standard for Barcelona over the past few meetings, a standard far beyond the Catalans. For once, it seems, that may not be the case. Key word: may.
Barcelona has rebuilt, with key signings over the past two years. None more emblematic than Robert Lewandowski. For years, he was Bayern’s best player. Last summer, he decided he’d like to switch sides.
Xavi’s men drew their first match of the season, but since, have been playing scintillating football. They have outscored opponents 20-2 in their past 5 matches, all wins. Lewandowski has contributed six of those goals, while Ousmane Dembélé and Raphinha have also received plaudits for their performances on the wings. The midfield has sprung to life, the defenders have kept alert, and Marc-André ter Stegen has recovered some of the form he had lost over the past few years.
But whether that is true strength to compete with the big boys of European football, that’s still to be seen. And there cannot be a better test of that than playing Bayern once again.