The epitome of Barcelona’s true progress will have its mettle tested against one of Europe’s toughest opponents in this massive UEFA Champions League clash, and it could very well dictate the tone for the rest of the season for the Catalans.
Date: Wednesday, 26th October 2022
Competition: UEFA Champions League
Venue: Camp Nou
Time: 21:00 CEST
Bayern is known as one of the greatest teams in the world, and also as one of the best ones for the past few years. Since they predominantly marched through the whole of Europe in 2020, when that ominous 8-2 happened, they have been widely recognized as one of the biggest favorites to win the Champions League heading into a new campaign.
And, those who think so, are not far from the truth. The Bavarian machine is a terrifying opposition to face, a complete team that combines physical presence, technical prowess, and tactical competence on the highest level.
With the likes of Leroy Sané, who enjoys redemption under Nagelsmann’s tenure, the ex-Liverpool star Sadio Mané and the incredible Jamal Musiala, who has been one of the best youngsters in the world, the Bavarians have compelling, fluid offensive play, where versatile attacking profiles can seamlessly take up any role and create havoc in the opposition defense.
Although this oppressive, imperious side of the Bavarians wasn’t significantly visible in our last meeting, the German record champions proved to play with the precise, composed instinct of a great team, exploiting our mistakes ruthlessly to claim the victory.
But, every failure is a lesson, the matter is how we see it. If Xavi learns from the mistakes of the past and makes the right choices in deploying his team, nothing is impossible, even if playing against such a monstrous team as Bayern.
What we could closely experience in the mere contrast between the right and wrong usage of the available profiles is just how important is to use every player in his best position, the role that suits him most in order to get the best out of them.
Against Inter and Real Madrid, we could see the negative examples of that, while redemption started when changes were made in the positive direction, demonstrated well in the magisterial triumphs against Villarreal and Bilbao.
From defense to the front, it will be essential to deploy the correct profiles, according to the actual game plan. Thankfully, we have multiple options to choose from – in most positions – to adjust their usage according to the nature of the opposition, something Xavi needs to learn, but seemingly, he is on the right way to do so.
While we have the sweet burden to choose from multiple available players in some positions, we also have some sensible absences, whose contribution was essential to our success. Namely, we are missing Ronald Araújo and Andreas Christensen from the center of the defense as well as Sergi Roberto from the right-back spot.
Following the disappointing two games against Inter, our fate of continuity in the Champions League has slipped out of our control, leaving our hopes for a miraculous performance from Viktoria Plzeň to hold Inter to at least a draw, or else we are out of the Champions League.
Still, even if Viktoria pulls off the miracle, we should beat both Bayern and Viktoria, while Inter should lose to the Bavarians. From this theory, matchday 5 will give us the answers.
So, all eyes are on the Camp Nou, tonight, our only aim is the victory, in any other scenario we are instantly out, but even if we manage to pull off the win, we are not safe unless Inter bottles against Viktoria. It’s sad we find ourselves in such a situation where even if we win, the decision is out of our control, but let’s pray and see what tomorrow brings.
Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen
Ter Stegen will have to be at his very best to ensure Barcelona keep out Bayern’s gruesome attacking prowess from scoring goals.
Right-back: Hector Bellerin
Given the recent injury to Sergi Roberto, the only natural right back at Xavi’s disposal right now is Hector Bellerin. He will have a lot to prove and showcase tonight, as he may as well be used regularly going forward given the lack of options at the right-back position at the moment.
Left-back: Alejandro Balde
Alejandro Balde had arguably one of his best performances against Athletic Bilbao, showcasing just how deadly his raw pace and ball-carrying abilities can be. He will have to work on his timing and decision-making against Bayern however if he hopes to help his team effectively.
Center-back: Jules Kounde
Jules Kounde is Barcelona’s priority center-back as it stands and he will be charged with taking a leader’s role in the heart of the defense. His technical and defensive qualities will be needed at their very best to ensure Bayern are not given any clear chances to score as well as provide his team with a dependable ball progressive outlet.
Center-back: Eric Garcia
Eric Garcia put up a solid performance against Athletic Bilbao. Will need to step up and ensure he doesn’t make any mistakes similar to the ones he can be attributed to having made against Inter Milan in the last Champions League game for Barcelona.
CDM: Frenkie De Jong
Frenkie De Jong has proved that he has what it takes to be a very strong pivot, and he has to showcase the same zest and awareness again, however. This match could very well showcase just how dependable Frenkie De Jong could be as a singular pivot against tougher opposition.
Pedri has been showing his magic game in and game out for the Catalans and will need to continue that going into this clash and do his best to dominate proceedings in Barcelona’s favor and create as many chances as possible for his team.
Gavi took a rather heavy knock in the last game, however, the latest Golden Boy winner is back in the squad list and his energy could be very integral to countering Bayern’s own intense presses and game plan.
Right-Winger: Ousmane Dembele
The man of the moment right now, Dembele comes into this game having scored one and assisted thrice in his last game. His versatility and explosiveness could be a crucial piece in Xavi’s game plan if they hope to come out with a victory against the Bavarians.
Center-forward: Robert Lewandowski
The former Bayern man was rather subpar in their previous meeting, squandering a host of decent chances he would typically bury in the back of the net. Currently Barcelona’s top scorer with 17 goals to his name, he will be hoping to add to his tally against Bayern.
Left-Winger: Ansu Fati
Ansu Fati has been improving day by day and getting back to his explosive best gradually. He is expected to be trusted by Xavi to constantly threaten Bayern and be a real goalscoring outlet for La Blaugrana.
Goalkeeper: Ter Stegen
Defenders: Balde, Garcia, Kounde, Bellerin
Midfielders: Pedri, Frenkie, Gavi
Forwards: Ansu Fati, Lewandowski, Dembele