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FC Barcelona head to Lisbon this week for a mini-tournament edition of the Champions League. The Blaugrana made it into the quarter finals after beating Napoli 3-1 at the Camp Nou last time out (4-2 on aggregate) and meet reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich on Friday, 14 August at 9pm CEST.
It is a fitting encounter between two regulars in the latter stages of the competition: Both Barça and Bayern are five-time winners, and will be appearing in the quarter finals for the 18th time - more than any other team.
Bayern Munich are one of the top sides in European football, and are currently in typically strong form. They clinched their eighth successive Bundesliga title back in June, with two games to spare in the league season. The team are also unbeaten in all competitions since a 2-1 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach in December of 2019.
In the Champions League, they have won every game played so far, topping a group also involving Red Star, Tottenham Hotspur and Olympiacos before beating Chelsea 7-1 in the Last 16.
Over half a decade has passed since the last Champions League meeting between FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich. In 2014/2015 they met twice at the semi-final stage, with Barça winning 3-0 in the first leg at the Camp Nou. Despite a 3-2 loss at the Allianz Arena in the return fixture, they progressed 5-3 on aggregate.
FC Barcelona would go on to win the Champions League that season.
A new-look format
Not only is the Champions League being concluded in August, three months later than scheduled, but the format has been changed completely in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, which Barça will be remembering with a special message on their shirts for this game.
The quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will now be played in just ten days as single leg games in a single city, Lisbon, from August 12 to 23.
The match-ups have been decided all the way to the final, and Barça are in the theoretically harder side of the draw (none of the teams in the other bracket are previous winners of the European Cup).
Messi vs. Lewandowski
Since the resumption of action in in Europe’s top-five leagues, the two players involved in the most goals in all competitions have been Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski (14 goals, 3 assists) and FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (7 goals, 9 assists). The two standouts will go head-to-head as they look to put their respective sides into the semi-finals.
Messi took a knock to his left leg in the win over Napoli, but is expected to be fully fit for Friday’s fixture.
Ter Stegen vs. Neuer
The match is likely to see a battle between two top German goalkeepers. Marc-André ter Stegen has played all-but-one game in the Champions League this season for FC Barcelona, only missing the encounter against Internazionale at the San Siro in the Group Stage.
Manuel Neuer, meanwhile, has been an ever-present for Bayern in their European campaign this term.
Suspension ruled both Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal out of Barça’s Last 16 second leg against Napoli, and coach Quique Setién welcomes the pair back for the quarter-final stage. No other players are out through disciplinary issues.
Did you know?
FC Barcelona are looking to reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for a second consecutive season, for the first time since a run of six between 2007/08 and 2012/13.
Bayern Munich have won their eight UEFA Champions League matches this season, with only Barcelona in 2002/03 winning their first nine in a campaign previously; the last team to win nine consecutive Champions League matches was also FC Barcelona, in a run between October 2014 and May 2015 - their ninth win in this sequence came against Bayern Munich.
FC Barcelona have lost just two of their last 31 UEFA Champions League matches (W19 D10) and are unbeaten in this season’s competition (W5 D3); they are one of only three teams still yet to taste defeat this season, along with opponents Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
The Lisbon connection
Barça’s first competitive game against a team from Lisbon was the 1949 Latin Cup Final against Sporting (Barça won 2-1 at Chamartin, Madrid). And Benfica were the opposition in Barça’s first European Cup Final in 1961, the Portuguese side winning 3-2 in Bern. Those games were both played on neutral territory, as Friday's will be.
Barça’s first visit to the Portuguese capital was in 1962 to play Belenenses in the opening round of the 1962/63 Fairs Cup. The game ended 1-1, as did the return at Camp Nou, and in the days before penalty shootouts, a third game was therefore required, which Barça won 3-2.
Nélson Semedo was born in Lisbon, and originally played for a club called Sport União Sintrense in the picturesque, historical town of Sintra on the outskirts of the metropolitan region before joining the Benfica youth system in 2012.
Gerard Piqué scored his first ever goal for FC Barcelona in the Portuguese capital, in a 5-2 win over Sporting in the Champions League group stage in 2013.
All the pre-game news and live coverage of the Champions League clash at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon.
What they said
Arturo Vidal and Quique Setién spoke to the press ahead of the game.
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