Who: Barcelona vs Bayern Munich
When: Friday, August 14th @ 3:00pm ET
Line: Barcelona +230 | Draw +285 | Bayern +105
A sense of Déjà vu must be tingling for FC Barcelona ahead of their UEFA Champions League Quarter-finals clash against the mighty Bayern Munich.
The last time the Spanish giants won the UCL, they triumphed over the German giants in the semi-finals en route to lifting the trophy. However, a lot has changed in the last five years.
Barca has lost several iconic stars & Lionel Messi often feels like a lone warrior fighting a helpless battle. Bayern, on the other hand, have only grown stronger & are favourites to win this unique UCL knockout format.
With Robert Lewandowski planning to dethrone Messi as ‘the best in the world’, it’ll be a thunderous war between motivated leaders aiming to lead their teams into European glory – something that has eluded both for far too many years.
Bayern Munich Predicted XI
Neuer, Kimmich, Boateng, Alaba, Davies, Goretzka, Alcantara, Gnabry, Muller, Perisic, Lewandowski
Kingsley Coman & Benjamin Pavard are ruled out due to injuries, which means Hans Dieter-Flick will opt for the same side that thrashed Chelsea a few days ago.
Barcelona Predicted XI
Ter Stegen, Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alaba, Busquets, Vidal, De Jong, Messi, Suarez, Griezmann
Barca fans had a near heart attack after Messi was spotted in agonizing pain following Kalidou Koulibaly’s crunching challenge on Saturday.
However, the Argentine played through his problems and will be ready to face Bayern. Arturo Vidal & Sergio Busquets are back from suspension, while Samuel Umtiti & Ousmane Dembele are absentees with injuries.
Bayern Munich vs Barcelona match preview
Honestly, nobody can blame Barca fans for being extremely nervous before this game.
Amazingly, they are actually the underdogs for this clash despite their gigantic reputation – which itself is an indication of how dangerous Bayern have been this season. But the game, thankfully, is in a neutral location which makes it even ground for both teams.
Barca don’t have to relive the dreaded nightmare of playing away from home and actually have a decent record in single-leg knockout based competitions, having done well in the Copa Del Rey in recent years. The advantage Bayern have over them is of superior fitness.
While Messi & co only saw their league season end a few weeks ago, the German side have been well rested for almost a month now. They’ll naturally be able to play at a higher tempo, with Barca’s weariness noticeable in their second-half display against Napoli.
At this moment, they need a leader to motivate the troops forward. Thankfully, they have one of the most ideal inspirations in soccer right now – the incomparable Messi. The Argentine wizard proved his class once again in the win over Napoli, scoring a beauty & orchestrating everything good about his side that day. Even though he might not be at 100%, Messi is still the only person who can see them through this storm. He has a great record against Bayern, scoring 5 goals & assisting 2 in 4 appearances against them (remember his iconic humiliation of Boateng few years ago?) and will look to maintain that on Friday.
Bayern are vulnerable against mazy dribbles like Messi, so he’ll take full advantage of that to coast by defenders with ease before trying to power past Manuel Neuer. But of course, a one-man show can’t win it for Barca and the Argentine will need partners-in-crime Luis Suarez & Antoine Griezmann at their very best. Neither have been at their peak this season, but it’s time to prove doubters wrong. Suarez is built for big occasions & will look torment the centre-backs with his movement and clinical scoring instincts. Griezmann needs to rediscover his attacking swagger & play more like a World Cup winner.
Most importantly, both need to operate according to Messi’s needs & create space as well as opportunities for their captain to deal the killing blow. But one thing Messi can’t influence for his side is their defensive weakness.
The Blaugrana’s defence has had the tendency of being opened up too easily, gifting opponents easy chances. Their defenders just don’t seem to have enough chemistry or awareness to close the gaps through which they’re exploited.
Bayern aren’t the forgiving team to waste opportunities. Lewandowski has evolved into a goal-scoring monster determined to prove himself as the world’s best. Thanks to Serge Gnabry’s incisiveness, Alphonso Davies’ speed or Ivan Perisic, Thomas Muller & former Barca man Thiago Alcantara’s creativity, Bayern can rip Barca’s backline to shreds if they’re not careful enough.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen can only save so many before giving up. So Gerard Pique & Clement Lenglet must maintain a rock-solid defensive shape and Vidal & Busquets should drop in as auxiliary defenders to contain Lewandowski & co.
Nelson Semedo & Jordi Alba must keep their wingers/wing-backs quiet and use their pace to compliment Messi going forward.
Barca needs to bring their absolute A-game on Friday to salvage a disappointing season. They can’t just rely on Messi to bail them out but perform as a whole unit. If able to do so, the Argentine wizard will pull off something special to see them through. If not, Bayern can pile an embarrassing end to a dismal season.
While these one-legged ties are difficult to predict, I don’t see Barca as mentally or defensively strong enough to hold out this ruthless Bayern side. Expect Messi to do his regular GOAT things and probably score a blinder, but for me Bayern win this 2-1.
Where to bet the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League in the US
In the US, you can legally bet on soccer in New Jersey, Indiana and Pennsylvania.