Barcelona face Bayern Munich on Wednesday night at the Spotify Camp Nou in their final home game of the Champions League group stage, and they will already know whether or not the match will have any meaning before kickoff even takes place.
The schedule has the other game in the group between Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen starting in the early TV window at 18:45 CET, and the result of that game will either seal Barça’s fate or give them a lifeline before they meet the German champions in the late kickoff.
Barça enter Matchday 5 in third place in Group C with 4 points, three fewer than the Italians who are in second. The math is pretty simple: if Inter win, regardless of the score, they are through to the Round of 16 and Barça will be eliminated from the Champions League.
Inter earned the all-important head-to-head advantage over Barça after the 3-3 draw two weeks ago at Camp Nou, so three points against Plzen would seal qualification even if Barça were to win their last two matches and Inter lost on Matchday 6, since the two teams would then be tied on 10 points in that scenario and the tie-break would go to the Italians.
But if a miracle happens and Inter don’t win at home against one of the worst teams in recent Champions League history, Barça will play against Bayern knowing that they will enter Matchday 6 still with a chance to reach the knockout stage if they find a way to beat the Bavarians.
If Plzen win, Barça would still be alive ahead of their final match if they don’t lose to Bayern. If there is a draw at San Siro, Barça must beat Bayern, which would then force Inter to win at the Allianz Arena next week to secure qualification assuming the Blaugrana were also able to beat Plzen away from home.
If Inter were to draw against both Plzen and Bayern and finish with 9 points, then Barça would need two wins to qualify. If Inter somehow were to lose both games and finish with 7 points, Barça would qualify with a draw against Bayern and a win in Plzen. If Inter draw against Plzen and Barça draw against Bayern, the Italians will qualify thanks to the tie-break and both Matchday 6 games will be meaningless.
So those are all the possible scenarios, and we’ll know 15 minutes before kickoff if Barça vs Bayern will be the biggest game of the season or a meaningless, depressing one.