Two of the biggest clubs in European football will lock horns in the Champions League on Tuesday evening, with Bayern Munich hosting Barcelona in Group C.
Bayern opened their section with a 2-0 victory at Inter Milan last Wednesday, while Barcelona were 5-1 winners over Viktoria Plzen at Camp Nou in their first game of the 2022-23 competition.
Bayern were surprisingly eliminated in the quarter-finals of last season’s Champions League by Villarreal, but they are six-time winners of this competition, with their last success coming in 2019-20, when they recorded a 1-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the final.
The Bundesliga champions will again be regarded as possible winners this term, and they made the perfect start to their Group C campaign last week, recording a 2-0 victory over Inter, with Leroy Sane opening the scoring before an own goal from Danilo D’Ambrosio took the game away from the hosts.
Bayern have actually not been victorious in the Bundesliga since August 21, though, drawing each of their last three matches against Borussia Monchengladbach, Union Berlin and Stuttgart.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side twice led against Stuttgart on Saturday, but a last-gasp penalty from Serhou Guirassy saw the points shared in a 2-2 draw, so the German giants are not quite in full flow early in the campaign.
Der FCB also faced Barcelona in the group stages of the 2021-22 competition, winning 3-0 at home and 3-0 away, and they are unbeaten against the Catalan outfit since the second leg of their semi-final during the 2014-15 campaign, winning the last four games between the two sides.
Barcelona failed to make it through the group stages of last season’s Champions League for just the fourth time in their history, and it proved to be their first exit at that stage since the 2000-21 campaign.
There is no getting away from the fact that 2021-22 proved to be a testing season for the Catalan giants, but an impressive summer transfer window has contributed to a strong start to this campaign.
Xavi’s side recorded a 5-1 win over Viktoria Plzen in their Champions League opener last week, with Robert Lewandowski scoring three times, and the Poland international will now take on the club that he left over the summer following 344 goals in 375 appearances.
Barcelona were also 4-0 winners over Cadiz in La Liga on Saturday, which temporarily moved them to the top of the table, and they have now been victorious in their last five matches in all competitions, meaning that confidence will be high heading into this standout European affair.
Blaugrana last won the Champions League in 2014-15, beating Juventus in the final, but they look ready to make a strong challenge this term, with Xavi putting together a squad packed full of quality, and the addition of Lewandowski, as Bayern will know all too well, has given them a world-class centre-forward.
Bayern will again be missing Kingsley Coman and Bouna Sarr for this match, but the German champions did not pick up any fresh fitness problems against Stuttgart.
Sane and Sadio Mane are both expected back in the final third of the field, while Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez are set to return to the defence.
There might be just the one change to the side that started against Inter in the Champions League last week, with Gnabry coming in for Coman, so Mane could play at centre-forward for the hosts here.
Barcelona, meanwhile, are taking a 25-man squad to Munich for this match, with Sergi Roberto included despite missing out against Cadiz on Saturday with a slight muscular problem.
Unless there are any late issues, the La Liga side will have a fully-fit squad, meaning that Xavi has a number of selection dilemmas, particularly at the back.
There were wholesale changes against Cadiz on Saturday, but Lewandowski, Pedri, Ousmane Dembele, Jules Kounde and Eric Garcia are expected to be back in the starting side for this match.
Kounde could start at right-back, with Ronald Araujo and Eric Garcia in the middle, while Gavi and Pedri are set to feature alongside Sergio Busquets in midfield, with Raphinha playing in the front three.
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Pavard, De Ligt, L Hernandez, Davies; Kimmich, Sabitzer; Gnabry, Muller, Sane; Mane
Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, E Garcia, Balde; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Raphinha, Lewandowski, Dembele