Barcelona prepare for Bayern showdown
Two of Europe’s top Champions League clubs take each other on this week in a crucial battle between Barcelona of La Liga and Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga. The German side, who have won their domestic championship, have hit top gear as the run in to the end of the season comes around whilst Barcelona will be hoping for redemption having lost their domestic league title to bitter rivals Real Madrid.
In a season impacted by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the Champions League has been resumed in August and the tournament will go down to the wire over the next week as the final teams prepare to do battle. Barcelona and Bayern will do battle once again on Friday, August 14, with Bayern opening as even-money favourites, with the game held on neutral grounds at the Estadio Da Luz in Lisbon due to the COVID-19 crisis.
In an amazing stat, Bayern Munich and Barcelona have both won the European showpiece tournament a total of five times, with Barca's last win coming in 2014/15.
Bayern, fresh off of a huge 7-1 win over Premier League side Chelsea, are now favorites to lift the European Cup ahead of Premier League side Man City, who have disappointed so far this campaign. Barcelona slipped past Napoli in their last game, but are amongst the Champions League’s top sides when it comes to the past two decades and fans of the Nou Camp side will be hoping that recent form over the Bavarian side continues in this crunch game.
There has been talk that Barca will rebuild their squad this summer and the likes of Ivan Rakitic and Sergi Roberto will take the two positions in midfield as Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets will miss out via suspension. It is understood that last summer's big signing Frenkie De Jong could also operate in a defensive midfield role if needed.
Up front, two of the continents top strikers Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski will hope to be grabbing the goals that put their respective teams through. Lewandowski scored two goals and grabbed two assists last week over Chelsea, and has been in sterling form having scored 53 goals in just 44 competitive games. On the other hand, Lionel Messi has been off form in recent weeks but is renowned for showing up for the massive games and more of the same will be expected from the Argentine.
Boss Quique Setien can likely call upon the returning Ousmane Dembele for this game, but the French World Cup winner may be forced to make do with a place on the bench if his fitness is not deemed up to the level required.
Meanwhile, star defender David Alaba of Bayern Munich has told reporters of the upcoming match: "The anticipation is huge, of course. Barcelona have a good team, we are aware of that, with very good, individual players, but we want to counter that and go to Portugal with confidence. We need each other, [we cannot] hide."