Barca’s second UCL group stage game is a clash against the team from Bavaria we know very well: Bayern Munich.
The biggest test of this season is here. Barca play Bayern Munich away at the Allianz Arena, a ground they have never won at. It’s a huge game for Barca as it a chance to send out a clear message to the rest of the footballing world- Barca is truly back. Other than that it is also a chance to make qualification to the knockout stages more secure. This will surely be a great game not just for fans of the two teams but for football fans in general.
Barca have a truly awful record against Bayern with only two wins, one draw and eight losses. The team from Bavaria have won six out the last seven meetings between the two teams. Barca’s last win against Bayern was the 3-0 victory with the iconic Messi goal at the Camp Nou. Bayern have won six Champions League titles in their history, just one more than Barca. They are also the record 32-time winners of the Bundesliga.
Bayern have done some good business over the summer by bringing in Sadio Mane (FW), Matthijs De Ligt (CB), Mathys Tel (CF), Ryan Gravenberch (CM) and Noussair Mazraoui(RB). Keep in mind that they lost their star striker( and one of the best players in Bayern’s history) Robert Lewandowski to Barca. He’s hit the ground running by scoring 9 goals and providing 2 assists in only his first month at the Catalan club. He’s in electric form and will be waiting to remind Bayern what exactly they are missing out on.
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Bayern are coached by Julian Nagelsmann, the former RB Leipzig manager. He’s one of the youngest managers in the league.His preferred formation is a hybrid 3-4-1-2 or 4-2-2-2. Nagelsmann is influenced by Ralf Ragnick’s pressing scheme’s. He’s a part of the German school of ‘gegenpressing’. Bayern press with intensity, pace and pressure every part of the pitch. One of his strengths is his tactical flexibility and adopting tactics that are better suited against the specific opposition in question. The acquisition of Mane over the summer has enabled him to use a more ‘free 9’ role which allows players to switch positions and cause confusion in the opponents backline. Kingsley Coman injured himself and will be unavailable for this game. Bayern are still stacked in the attacking department with Sane,Mane, Musiala, Gnabry and Mueller.
It will be key for Barca to take Joshua Kimmich out of the game. For me, he’s one of the most important players for Bayern. He’s an essential cog in a well-oiled machine. Xavi must try to neutralise him as much as possible by cutting out passing lanes and also tracking runs behind the defence as Kimmich has an elite passing range and if given the space he will hurt the Barca defense. Another player to watch out for is Thomas Mueller. Loves playing against Barca and does everything on the pitch. He’s a leader, an elite footballer and one of the most intelligent players the game has ever seen. He’s the link between the defense and attack.
Not their best form
Bayern have drawn three games in a row in the Bundesliga. However, they did beat Inter Milan 2-0 in the Champions League. Barca have strengthened substantially over the summer and Xavi has shown improvement as a coach especially with his in-game management. He chose to rotate in the game against Cadiz and in the end that payed off as Barca won 4-0 while also being able to rest key players like Lewandowski, Pedri, Kounde and Dembele. Xavi has to answer some big questions like who will play as a RB and who will be the third starting midfielder alongside Pedri and Busquets. Will Xavi play a 4-3-3 or will he use a 3-4-3? We’ll find out soon enough.
This game will show us where Barca is on the European stage. It’s high time Barca beat Bayern.
Visca el Barca!