- Copy link
Following the 5-1 win over Viktoria Plzen at the Spotify Camp Nou on the opening day of the 2022/23 Champions League, FC Barcelona now face the intriguing challenge of a trip to Bayern Munich.
It’s no secret that the Catalans have suffered some devastating losses at the hands of the Bavarians in recent years. Nobody needs to be reminded of that. But it’s also true that Barça have come on leaps and bounds since the summer. The new-look squad has been delivering the goods, not just against the Czechs last week, but also with four very convincing back-to-back wins in La Liga.
It’s got people believing that Barça are very serious candidates for the Champions League title this year, so this game with the German giants is not just about the three points. It’s a fabulous chance to test just how far Barça have really come, and to show Europe just how much of a force they are to be reckoned with.
And on top of all that, there is the intrigue surrounding the return of Robert Lewandowski to the club where he forged his name as one of the world’s greatest strikers across eight immaculate seasons in Bavaria. It has only taken a handful of games for Barça fans to appreciate just what a brilliant player he is. For the home fans it is going to be very strange, and also very worrying, to see a man they idolised for so long lining up in the visiting team’s colours.
Hundreds of Polish fans are making the relatively short journey west to see their national hero in action. This is not just a big game for Barça, it’s arguably the biggest game in the entire Champions League group stage. Expect fireworks…
How it stands
Barça top Group C after the first week of action, on goal difference ahead of Bayern, who opened their own campaign with a 2-0 win away to Inter Milan.
Today’s other game is being played at the earlier time of 6.45pm CEST, in which Viktoria Plzen host the Italians. Both sides know that if they don’t win that, they’ll be left with a huge mountain to climb in order to progress any further in the competition.
Bayern form guide
After beating RB Leipzig to win the German Super Cup and then getting off to a storming start in the Bundesliga, with three straight wins, scoring a frightening 16 goals and conceding just the one, it looked like business as usual for Bayern despite the loss of their biggest name in Lewandowski.
However, since then the alarm bells have started ringing. They have just drawn three games they would normally have been expected to win, at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach and VfB Stuttgart and away to Union Berlin.
It means the winners of an incredible ten German championships in a row are just third in the table, one point behind Freiburg and two behind leaders Union. Even more reason for Barça to feel confident that this is the moment to hit them hard.
With Sergio Roberto’s minor niggles behind him, Xavi Hernández has a fully fit and suspension-free squad to choose from. A travelling party of 25 men set off from Barcelona airport on Monday morning. These include new signings Marcos Alonso and Hector Bellerín, who are in line to make their Barça debuts in the competition after they both featured in the 4-0 win at Cádiz on Saturday.
Bayern, meanwhile, are missing Senegalese defender Bouna Sarr and French striker Kingsley Coman.
Did you know?
This is the third time that Barça and Bayern have been drawn in the same Champions League group and until now the Germans have won every game.
Bayern haven’t lost a home fixture in the Champions League since Manchester City won in Munich in 2013.
Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann is looking to become the first manager to ever win three European games in a a row against Barça.
If Lewandowski scores, he will not be the first player to score both for an against Bayern in Europe. Giovane Élber, Roy Makaay and Lukas Podolski all did it before.
Thomas Müller has scored more European goals (8) against Barça than any other player.
Xavi's thoughts ahead of the game
Barça coach Xavi Hernández faced the media on Monday ahead of the clash with Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage on Tuesday in the Allianz Arena. Here are some of his thoughts ahead of the game.
On the team's situation: "We are playing against one of the best sides in the world. It's a real challenge to win here. We are in better form than last year and we think we will be able to compete tomorrow."
On the game: "I see a close game, with two teams who want possession and will press high up the field to win the ball back as soon as possible."
On Robert Lewandowski: Robert looks in good shape. Calm and confident, he is a natural leader for the team. It will be a special game for him and after not starting the other day [against Cádiz] he will be fresh."
- Copy link