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FCB vs BAR, UEFA Champions League 2022/23: MPL Preview, Predictions & Fantasy Team

Barcelona and Bayern Munich will headline the statement fixture of the second week of the UEFA Champions League 2022/23 group stage. Two of the biggest clubs in Europe will collide at the Allianz Arena in Munich. History and intensity are involved in any match involving Barcelona and Bayern as the two clubs have played out some absolute iconic and classic ties in the Champions League’s recent history.

In fact, they had come face to face during the UEFA Champions League last season where Bayern triumphed quite comfortably over both the home and away legs against a struggling Barcelona. A new-look Barcelona side, however, began their 2022/23 Champions League campaign on a perfect note with a 5-1 hammering of Viktoria Plzen. Bayern, meanwhile, kicked off their Group C campaign with a 2-0 win over Inter in Milan last Wednesday.

Bayern Munich will be looking to go the distance this time around after suffering a shock quarter-final exit at the hands of Villarreal in the Champions League last season. They are six-time winners of the competition and have plenty of history and prestige. Their last continental triumph arrived in 2019-20 when they beat Paris Saint Germain 1-0 in the final to win their sixth crown.

Of course, en route to the final in Lisbon, Bayern slaughtered Barcelona 8-2 in the quarter-finals to record probably the most infamous capitulation in the Champions League in recent memory. The German champions began their Champions League on a strong note and with a 2-0 victory over Inter away from home.

Leroy Sane opened the scoring for the Bavarian club before an own goal from Danilo D’Ambrosio secured the contest in their favour. Bayern are currently second in Group C, behind Barcelona on the basis of goal difference.

On the domestic front, however, they’ve run into a few problems as they are winless in Bundesliga since August 21. They have recorded draws in all three of their most recent fixtures in the German top-flight. As a result, they have fallen behind in the Bundesliga standings and are third at the moment.

With three wins and three draws from their six games, they have picked up 12 points so far. Bayern trail table-toppers Union Berlin by two points. Of course, they have plenty of time to make up for that deficit and the situation is hardly concerning from their perspective.

Last time around, Julian Nagelsmann’s side led twice against VfB Stuttgart, but a last-gasp penalty from Serhou Guirassy saw Bayern having to share points with their opponents in a 2-2 draw. The Germans have been far from their best in recent matches and are yet to top gear.

They will fancy themselves against Barcelona though as Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich, Manuel Neuer and co always seem to raise their game against the Catalan opponents. Bayern secured 3-0 victories both home and away against Barcelona in the Champions League group stage last season and 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.

Bayern’s unprecedented record is surely set to be put to test against a rejuvenated Barcelona side who are currently firing on all cylinders. Former Bayern hero, Robert Lewandowski, who spent eight glorious seasons in Munich will now visit the Allianz Arena in the colours of Barcelona. Lewandowski has gotten off to a tremendous start in his Barcelona career, scoring nine goals in his first six official games and leading the side effortlessly.

The Polish striker marked his Champions League debut at the Camp Nou with a dazzling hattrick at the expense of Viktoria Plzen in the opening Group C fixture for Barcelona. The hattrick took him beyond Karim Benzema in the Champions League top scorer list where he currently sits behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi with 89 goals. Franck Kessie and Ferran Torres rounded off the scoring in a 5-1 hammering as the Catalan side currently lead the table.

Barcelona also ran riot and came out 4-0 winners against Cadiz in La Liga on Saturday. Frenkie De Jong, Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati, and Lewandowski scored in that game as Barcelona continue to maintain their undefeated start in La Liga. They are second in the table, two points behind league leaders and defending champions Real Madrid. Over their five domestic matches so far, Xavi’s side have netted 15 goals and have conceded only once so far.

The Champions League has been the Achilles Heel for Barcelona in recent seasons and the five-time winners have endured pretty miserable times lately. Last season, they failed to make it through the group stages for the fourth time in their history and were knocked out by Bayern and Benfica. It proved to be their first exit at that stage since the 2000-21 campaign.

There’s no escaping from the fact that this is a different Barcelona side however and Bayern would be foolish to underestimate and take them lightly. Strengthened by the additions of Franck Kessie, Andreas Christensen, Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Hector Bellerin, and Marcos Alonso, Barcelona now have quality peppered all over the pitch and also have tremendous squad depth.

They had last won the Champions League during the 2014-15 campaign. On that occasion, they had hammered Bayern Munich 5-2 over the two legs, including a 3-0 triumph at the Camp Nou. The fixture against Bayern represents Barcelona’s biggest test since the summer revolution and how they do here will indicate how they match up against the best in history and there’s no doubt that Xavi will be keen on leaving a strong impression.

FCB vs BAR, UEFA Champions League 2022/23

Date: 14th September, 2022

Time: 12:30 AM IST

Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich

FORM GUIDE:

Bayern Munich Champions League form:

  • W

Bayern Munich form (all competitions):

  • W-D-W-D-W-D

Barcelona Champions League form:

  • W

Barcelona form (all competitions):

  • D-W-W-W-W-W

HEAD-TO-HEAD:

Bayern Munich wins: 8

Draws: 1

Barcelona wins: 2

TEAM NEWS:

Bayern Munich Team News:

Bayern Munich will continue to miss the services of Kingsley Coman and Bouna Sarr. However, they did not suffer any fresh injury concerns against Stuttgart. Nagelsmann is expected to reinstate both Leroy Sane and Sadio Mane in the final third of the pitch to partner Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry.

The former Liverpool forward might play at centre-forward, the position once occupied by Lewandowski in order to accommodate Sane on the flank who will replace the injured Coman.

The defence is also expected to be bolstered by the returns of Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez.

Barcelona Team News:

Barcelona are travelling with a 25-man squad to Munich and Sergi Roberto, who missed the clash against Cadiz with a small adductor issue, has also been included in Xavi’s scheme.

There may be several changes to Barcelona lineup as the club decided to rest several players against Cadiz this weekend. All of Jules Kounde, Eric Garcia, Pedri, Dembele, and Lewandowski will return to the team to start this important clash.

Kounde will be playing through the right flank in order to provide more defensive security while Araujo and Garcia will be holding down the fort in the middle. Gavi and Pedri are expected to partner Sergio Busquets in midfield while Raphinha and Dembele will play on either flank and Lewandowski occupying the zones in the middle of the pitch and pushing the line for Barcelona.

Ansu Fati, Franck Kessie, and Christensen are the primary contenders to come on for Barcelona in the second half.

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

Predictions:

Barcelona seem to be flying at the moment. There has been no shortage of goals with the majestic Robert Lewandowski spearing their frontline. The likes of Raphinha, Dembele and Gavi have also been in brilliant form while Ansu Fati could pose a significant threat from the bench.

Xavi has also seen his defence shored up by the additions of Jules Kounde and Andreas Christensen and the ever-improving Eric Garcia and Alex Balde while Ronald Araujo is difficult to get past.

Naglesmann’s men, who are yet to hit the throttle in the Bundesliga so far will be put to the test here. While they do have resources all over the pitch to challenge Barcelona, Bayern may not necessarily have the squad depth to push them deep. It won’t be surprising to see this match end in a narrow win for the Catalan side.

FCB vs BAR Fantasy XI No. 1

FCB vs BAR Fantasy XI No. 2

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