Barcelona play their final home game of the Champions League group stage against Bayern Munich at the Spotify Camp Nou on Wednesday night in what could either be a crucial match or a completely meaningless one.
It all depends on the result of Inter Milan vs Viktoria Plzen, who play two hours earlier at San Siro in the other game in Group C. If Inter win, Barça will kick off against Bayern knowing they’re eliminated from the Champions League, but any other result would give the Blaugrana a lifeline if they find a way to beat the German champions.
Barça played well but lost 2-0 to Bayern at the Allianz Arena in their first group stage meeting six weeks ago, and the Bavarians have been in incredible form since the international break and come into this one looking to secure first place with a draw or a victory at Camp Nou. Here’s how we think Barça will line up on Wednesday night.
Xavi Hernández has no choice but to field a strong team against Bayern even if Barça start the game already out of the running in the group. The team needs a win, the fans would like to see reasons for optimism, and Xavi badly needs a big night in Europe after many disappointing ones since taking charge of the club last November.
The defense has been through many changes since the start of the season and we are yet to see a consistent back four, and we’ll likely see a different combination again: Jules Kounde was very good at right-back in the first game against Bayern and will likely return to that role to deal with the threat of Sadio Mané, and Eric García could play alongside Marcos Alonso to have as much quality on the ball as possible to deal with Bayern’s high press.
The Alonso experiment hasn’t worked yet, but Xavi seems to trust the former Chelsea man a lot more than anyone else so expect the Spaniard to be in the team. If Alonso indeed plays a center-back, Jordi Alba would likely get the nod on the left due to his experience and good recent form.
Barça fans expecting the end of the Sergio Busquets Era saw the captain once again in the lineup on Sunday against Athletic Bilbao, but Busquets did play very well and formed an interesting double pivot with Frenkie de Jong.
It wouldn’t be a shock to see the two together once again in midfield, and Gavi may not be ready to start after the injury scare against Bilbao and will most likely come off the bench. Pedri will complete the midfield trio, though he might play as a false left winger again if Xavi decides to stick with Sunday’s plan and have more numbers in the middle with Franck Kessie (if Gavi isn’t ready to start).
There’s been a revolving door all season in the front three when it comes to who starts alongside Robert Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembélé in big games. Raphinha, Ansu Fati and Ferran Torres have all been used, and none of those three has managed to truly win the spot.
It has mostly been about form, and Ferran has the edge over the other two in that department. With two goals and one assist in the last three games, Torres is playing his best football of the season and is slowly regaining Xavi’s trust. Don’t be surprised if the Spaniard starts this one.
Possible XI: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Eric, Alonso, Alba; De Jong, Busquets, Pedri; Dembélé, Lewandowski, Ferran (4-3-3)
How do you think Barcelona should line up against Bayern Munich? Let us know your thoughts, predictions and teams in the comments below!