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Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups
08/12/2021 11:22:03

Still yet to be assured of a place in the Champions League knockout rounds, Barcelona face a mammoth task against Bayern Munich in Wednesday's final Group E clash.


Julian Nagelsmann's side are already guaranteed to finish first, while La Blaugrana are in a two-way fight with Benfica for second place.


We say: Bayern Munich 3-1 Barcelona


Barcelona have far more riding on this game than Bayern do, but it is difficult to see a Blaugrana team low on confidence and numbers springing any surprises at the Allianz Arena.


Some expected changes in the home defence will aid Barca's prospects of making the net ripple, but Nagelsmann's side could very well condemn the Catalans to the unfamiliar territory of Europa League football this week.


Match preview


As widely expected, the Champions League group stage has been a walk in the park for Bayern Munich, who have strolled to five wins from five to ease into the last-16 as one of three teams - alongside Liverpool and Ajax - currently boasting a perfect group record.


Nagelsmann's men were made to work for their victory over Dynamo Kiev on the penultimate matchday but ultimately got over the line thanks to strikes from Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski, whose goals once again proved invaluable in Der Klassiker at the weekend.


Jude Bellingham's post-match attack on referee Felix Zwayer made all the headlines, as a potential penalty for Borussia Dortmund was waved away while Lewandowski tucked home a controversially-awarded spot kick to sink his former club in a 3-2 success.


No team in the 2021-22 Champions League has scored more goals than Bayern's 19 in the group stages, with the German champions scoring at least two per game and hitting both Dynamo Kiev and Benfica for five at the Allianz Arena already.


Nagelsmann's side have not been without their faults this season, but they have won eight of their nine home games in all tournaments since the season kicked off, and Barcelona's teething issues under Xavi are apparent.


A pair of 1-0 victories over Dynamo Kiev is hardly anything to shout about for a club of Barcelona's calibre, especially seeing as they failed to confirm their second-placed finish in Group E after being held to a goalless stalemate by Benfica on matchday five.


La Blaugrana sit two points above their Portuguese counterparts in second spot, but they have a worse head-to-head record and Benfica will certainly be confident of beating Dynamo Kiev, so Xavi's side are at an alarming large risk of settling for Europa League football.


The Catalan club do not exactly travel to Munich high on confidence either, as Real Betis' Juanmi condemned Xavi to the first defeat of his reign as Barcelona manager at the weekend - ending Barca's six-game unbeaten run across all competitions in the process.


A paltry tally of three wins from their last nine in all tournaments represents a true fall from grace for Barcelona, but they ought to take confidence from their away form in Europe - losing just one of their last 10 Champions League games on the road.


Such a streak may pale into insignificance against a well-oiled Bayern machine, though, with the German champions running riot in a 3-0 Camp Nou win earlier this season - Barca's fifth defeat from their last six games versus the Bavarian powerhouses.


Team News


Bayern's squad has been ravaged by coronavirus in recent weeks, and as such Joshua Kimmich, Michael Cuisance and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting are all at risk of missing out again.


Bouna Sarr, Marcel Sabitzer and Josip Stanisic are all out of contention through injury, and while the ankle injury that Lucas Hernandez picked up against Dortmund is not thought to be serious, he should be spared here either way.


Dayot Upamecano is back from a European ban, and the likes of Jamal Musiala and Marc Roca can feel hopeful of earning starts in this inconsequential tie, especially with Leon Goretzka and Serge Gnabry also ruled out.


As for Barcelona, Ansu Fati has reportedly lost his battle to be passed fit for Wednesday's game, with Martin Braithwaite, Sergio Aguero, Pedri and Sergi Roberto also on the sidelines for the visitors.


Gavi was taken to hospital after suffering a head injury against Real Betis, and while he is reported to be training normally, it would be hugely controversial to see him passed fit for Wednesday.


Frenkie de Jong is therefore poised to return to the first XI, and Xavi could take a punt on Ousmane Dembele with Ez Abde not registered for the Champions League.


Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:

Neuer; Pavard, Sule, Nianzou, Richards; Roca, Tolisso; Sane, Muller, Musiala; Lewandowski


Barcelona possible starting lineup:

Ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Pique, Alba; Gonzalez, Busquets, De Jong; Dembele, Depay, Coutinho

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