It’s the penultimate Matchday in the UCL group stages, and without having fate in our hands, Barça will be facing Bayern Munich live from the Camp Nou. At 9pm local time.
Putting things into perspective:
In terms of how our group stage has gone, overall it’s a massive improvement from what we saw last season. Especially when you just look at overall performances. We have simply been undone by shocking officiating, injuries to key players and individual mistakes in the biggest moments. And unfortunately, in the UCL, there’s no room for any of that. We must however use this as a lesson for the future. This team will naturally gain experience and chemistry over time, which is another key aspect of building for a brighter future. We’ll be there soon, there’s no doubt. We’ve just got to deal with the fact that we’ll be in the Europa league one more time. Hoping that it’s the last time we’ll have to go through it.
What people must not forget, is that this is only the beginning of a gigantic rebuild. When you look at the absolute ruins we are coming from, any rebuild was going to take time. Our performances at the start of the year. And our recent summer transfer window built a lot of excitement. And of course with excitement, comes expectation. All of that was completely justified. But the fact is, we weren’t ready to play in such a difficult group so early on. Ideally, we needed to be in an easier group, with maybe one really big team in there. To give us the experience of facing a top side.
But with the comfort of playing teams that are more around our level. Confidence would’ve grown and then we could’ve built from there. But we weren’t lucky in the group draw. We were pulled in the group of death, and it honestly came too soon for us. But we are building in the right direction. And no one can deny that. This is a very young team, that at times lacks experience. That is completely fair. And not to forget, we have a very young coach. But just like the team, he is a very exciting one. Always learning, always evolving his ideas and game plans. And most importantly, learning from bad experiences. All this in the end will work to benefit us as a team and as a club.
A quick look at our opponents.
When it comes to Barça vs Bayern, there really isn’t much needed to say about that. They’ve been working like a well oiled machine for years. And we haven’t been able to escape them for the last few seasons it seems. As it feels like we come up against them every time. However, our last game against them came in Munich a couple months back. And I think I can speak for all of us where it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
Barça deserved to get a lot more out of that game against Bayern, especially in the first half. But unfortunately for us, the ball just wouldn’t go in. Bayern we’re clinical and Barça weren’t. And that was the difference in the night. We’ll be looking to put that right at the Camp Nou later tonight. As like I mentioned before, we’re playing for pride tonight and that’s it. We’re out of the champions league, but it is still going to be a huge test for us. And this team needs all of the support they can get.
As far as the lineup goes, I wouldn’t change much from what we saw against Athletic Bilbao a few days ago. And I’d even keep the system the same too. Using a double pivot with Frenkie and Busi was refreshing to see and made us look a lot more unpredictable. The only questions would be in defence and attack. Pedri, Gavi and Frenkie should all be starting. And if we do go with an extra midfielder, then that’d be Busi.
In defence, Balde has to start. He hasn’t played from the start at all in the group stage. And off the back of an incredible performance on the weekend, he’s earned his place. Alba wouldn’t be a bad option, but we need pace. Bellerin will come in for the injured Roberto.
And if we do lineup with a trident up top. I’d start Dembele, after a magical display against Bilbao. And I’d also start Ansu. He needs the confidence boost, and to hopefully bag a goal in the UCL would be brilliant. I’d also not be against starting Ferran either, after he has been slowly getting back to his best over the last few games. He’ll be looking to carry that on when called upon tonight. And having a profile like Ansu or Ferran on the left just gives us that extra goal threat. Below I’ll be doing two team predictions. One will be based on whether Xavi decides to play with 4 midfielders. And the other is if we stick with the traditional 4-3-3.
Bellerin- Kounde- Alonso- Balde
Dembele- Pedri- Gavi
Bellerin- Kounde- Alonso- Balde
Pedri- Frenkie- Gavi
Dembele- Lewandowski- Ansu