It’s Tuesday night. 9pm local time. Live from the Estadi Montjuic. That can only mean one thing, its the return of the Champions League. Our first opponent in the group stage is Belgium’s Royal Antwerp. And its important we arrive to the game with the right attitude. Champions league games are always difficult. Every opponent gives its own different challenge. The lights, the music, the atmosphere it always just gives that edge. What will be interesting is to see how it looks at our new temporary home for the season, at Montjuic.
A quick look at our opponents:
As mentioned quickly above, Royal Antwerp are a Belgian side who play their football in the Belgian Pro League. Currently they find themselves 5th 4 points. They are the current holders of the Belgian league title. And the Reds are overseen by a former Barca player, Mark Van Bommel. Over the course of their long history, Antwerp have participated in European competitions on 16 separate occasions. Their very best result was reaching the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup final, where they lost to Parma. Last season they were playing in the Europa Conference League and made it to the this years Champion’s League through the play offs.
With the attention turning back to Barca, although I am expecting a tricky game to navigate, i still think we may see a few changes from the eleven that stated against Betis. On the weekend, it was by far one of the best performances we’ve seen in a while from Barca, so we have to keep building on that. That’s why for me, although the temptation would be to make a few rotations. For me personally, I wouldn’t really want to disrupt that team much at all. Let’s start to see some proper connections and partnerships built on the pitch.
The only 2-3 changes i would make would come at centre back. I’d rest Christensen for this and put Iñigo in his place next to Kounde. Cancelo, and Balde should keep their place too. In midfield, for experimental on nights like this id start Gundogan and possibly rest Gavi. He played the full 90 on Saturday so he could do with a rest. And i would also start Raphinha too and then bring Ferran on as a super sub, starting Ferran on the weekend against Vigo. I really wouldn’t want to change the team that much because it would be nice to see some sort of consistency. We can rest and rotate as the game goes on, but id definitely start strong against Antwerp. It’s out first night in the Champions League so you don’t really want to rest too many important players.
My Starting 11:
Cancelo- Kounde- Iñigo- Balde
Gundogan- Romeu- Frenkie
Raphinha- Lewandowski- Felix