It seems like it was fate: Barça must once again face Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The Catalans have an opportunity to get the Bayern ‘monkey off their back’. Moreover, it looks like we’re at the start of a new chapter in the club’s history. On Tuesday they can prove to themselves that they can compete with the best in Europe again.
Last season, beating Real Madrid was the first sign that Xavi’s Barcelona was on the right track. But Bayern Munich is another story. Barcelona are still looking to avenge the 8-2 drubbing that sent the club into a tailspin.
A year ago, Thomas Muller commented that Barca lacked the intensity needed to compete in Europe’s top competition. Under Ronald Koeman, a sense of fatalism was sinking in that the best Barcelona could do was limit the damage, and the lifeless performances in the group stage was the final straw that ushered in the arrival of a new manager.
Thomas Muller gives his up-close perspective of Barcelona 🧐 pic.twitter.com/3lMYrmfPPu
— GOAL (@goal) December 9, 2021
Things are much better now
A year later, and Xavi is the coach. Furthermore, Robert Lewandowski is the star. Barcelona have invested heavily to be able to win trophies now.
On Tuesday, we all need to buckle in, because we are about to see whether this Barcelona team is mentally ready to embrace the pressure that comes with such high expectations.
Barcelona must put in a tremendous performance with every intention of taking down a Bayern Munich team that has humiliated them over the past few seasons. Lucky for them, Lewandowski is now on their side, and he’ll be fired up and motivated to take the fight to a club that was ready to discard him.
Barcelona gave the Pole international new life, and he is a man on a mission to reward their confidence.
Another difference now is the form of Ousmane Dembele, and the addition of Raphinha.
This time around, hopefully, it will be Bayern Munich with their hands full defending the threat down the wings.
Dembele has something to prove to the world, and French national team manager Didier Deschamps. If he is indeed one of the best wingers in Europe, he should make the difference in the Champions League.
Raphinha made a big impact this season already, so it’s amazing to see him look so dissatisfied every time he comes off the field. The Brazilian will be eager to put his talents on display as well.
Alphonso Davies, an unstoppable force in past encounters, will have a tougher task this time around.
The Barcelona defense is a lot better now
Xavi will look to stop the left wing of Bayern by playing either Jules Kounde or Ronald Araujo as the right-back.
This Barcelona defense is much more solid and organized. Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba being sacrificed for younger and more physical alternatives.
Bayern Munich will not have their way in front of goal this time. They’ll find it much tougher with Araujo, Kounde, and Christensen standing in their way.
Even more so when you consider their struggle to find a center-forward replacement for Lewandowski.
In spite of a strong performance against Inter Milan last week, the Bavarians have not been at their best in the Bundesliga, most recently dropping points to Stuttgart on Saturday.
Barcelona must take advantage of their good form, and the struggles of their opponent, and be ruthless against Bayern Munich.
The Catalans are scoring with ease, and their system is starting to click, especially with Xavi’s preferred starting eleven.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side is still struggling to come together heading into his second year as manager. If Barcelona is back, as we all hope they are, this is their golden opportunity to prove it.
Barcelona are playing in the group of death. They have a chance to top it, and then build the momentum that will be needed to become champions again.
Time to be brave, trust one another, and put on a show the way only Barcelona knows how.
The world will be watching to see if Barca can enter the lion’s den and take down the Bavarian giants.
The leadership of Xavi and Lewandowski have them prepared to do just that.