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Royal Antwerp vs Barcelona, Champions League: Team News, Match Preview

Barça look to rebound from a painful loss at the weekend and win their European group

FC Barcelona v Girona FC - LaLiga EA Sports Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Royal Antwerp (4th, 0pts) vs FC Barcelona (1st, 12pts)


Competition/Round: 2023-24 Champions League, Group H, Matchday 6

Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Frenkie de Jong, Marc-André ter Stegen, Gavi, Iñigo Martínez, Marcos Alonso (out)

Antwerp Outs & Doubts: Jurgen Ekkelenkamp, Arbnor Muja, Björn Engels, Jacob Ondrejka, Anthony Valencia (out), Jelle Bataille (doubt)

Date/Time: Wednesday, December 13, 2023, 9pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8pm GMT (UK), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Thursday)

Venue: Bosuilstadion, Antwerp, Belgium

Referee: Marco Guida (ITA)

VAR: Paolo Valeri (ITA)

How to watch on TV: Galavision (USA), TNT Sports 6 (UK), SONY TEN 5 (India), SuperSport (Nigeria), Movistar Liga de Campeones (Spain), others

How to watch online: Paramount+ (USA), Discovery+ (UK), Movistar+ (Spain), others


Following a humbling and painful defeat to La Liga leaders Girona at the weekend, Barcelona have made the trip to Belgium for their sixth and final Champions League group stage game as they face Royal Antwerp at the Bosuilstadion in beautiful Antwerp on Wednesday night.

Barça come into this one after a horrible night against their Catalan rivals which made their title defense almost impossible and led to a fresh round of heavy criticism against manager Xavi Hernández and several of the players that a lot of fans tend not to like anyway.

But the Blaugrana can’t spend their time thinking about Sunday and must move on, and this is a very good opportunity to get back on track. The Catalans will face the worst team in the group needing just one point to finish in first place, and will be hungry and ready to prove that the Girona loss was just a bad game, not a bad sign.

Xavi is expected to heavily rotate his squad and give valuable minutes to youngsters and reserves who haven’t gotten much playing time lately, with the likes of Alejandro Balde, Fermín López and Lamine Yamal hoping to start and build their confidence as they search for more minutes the rest of the season.

Antwerp will look to finish their debut Champions League journey with at least a point or maybe a famous win against the mighty Barça, and despite their struggles throughout the group stage they haven’t stopped playing their bold, phyisical, attacking brand of football which will make for an entertaining game.

The night against Girona was really bad, but it can just be that. A bad night. Beating Antwerp is one step to proving that, and a good performance full of goals will help restore at least some of the good vibes.

Let’s dance.


POSSIBLE LINEUPS

Barcelona (4-3-3): Peña; Roberto, Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Pedri, Romeu, Fermín; Yamal, Ferran, Félix

Antwerp (4-3-3): Butez; De Laet, Alderweireld, Coulibaly, Wijndal; Vermeeren, Keita, Balikwisha; Ejuke, Janssen, Kerk


PREDICTION

The change in competition and the chance given to youngsters and reserves should prove to be a good thing for Barça, and I expect them to play with freedom and confidence to restore the good vibes: 3-0 to the good guys.

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