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What with an international break and then the postponement of the Sevilla game, it’s more than a fortnight since the last FC Barcelona game. But football is back and it’s back with a bang as two teams that have won the competition eleven times between them meet on the opening day of the Champions League.
The Camp Nou is the venue at 9.00pm CEST Tuesday, while over in Ukraine, the other two other teams in Group E, Dynamo Kyiv and Benfica, will be kicking off their match at the same time.
Barça are starting the competition against the side that won the trophy two seasons ago, beating the Catalans along the way, and who have won the German Bundesliga an incredible nine years in a row. Julian Nagelsmann is now the manager after Hansi Flick left to take charge of the national side, but the Bayern machine is looking as strong as ever and will provide the biggest test of the season so far for Ronald Koeman and his men.
The great news is that for the first time since Dortmund were in town on 27 November 2019, not far short of two years ago, there will be fans inside the Camp Nou as Covid-19 restrictions are gradually lifted and life starts returning to normal.
There have been a lot of changes at FC Barcelona since then. Several big names have departed, but there have also been new arrivals to spearhead the club into a new era. Memphis has been dazzling in this season’s Liga fixtures, and is now set to make his UCL debut in a Barça shirt. In the 2019/20 season he scored in five out of six group fixtures for Olympique Lyonnais, so this is clearly a competition in which he is able to continue shining.
He’s been joined at the club by his compatriot Luuk de Jong. The Sevilla loanee has had to wait for the chance to make his debut, but it’s going to be fascinating to see what the addition of his height can do for the Barça frontline. Eric Garcia has plenty of Champions League experience to offer from his days at Manchester City, who reached the final of this competition last season.
Tuesday also brought great news with both Gerard Piqué and Sergiño Dest being declared fully recovered from their respective injuries, thus providing a massive boost to Barça's defensive plans.
But there is also a huge buzz surrounding the younger players that Ronald Koeman has been giving opportunities, not just in the preseason but also in the opening Liga fixtures. There could be more Champions League debuts to enjoy tonight.
Barça come into the game unbeaten in La Liga, but Bayern have been in typically fine song in their own championship too. After picking up an impressive 4-1 win at RB Leipzig at the weekend they are second in the Bundesliga.
PRE MATCH VIEWS
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