On at 23:28 CEST
Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona debuts in the 2021/22 Champions League against one of the most powerful rivals, Julian Nagelsmann’s Bayern. The Germans are the top favorites to qualify as first in group E, while the Catalans are the main candidates for second place, ahead of Benfica and Dinamo Kiev.
The Catalans, who last season they lost to PSG in the round of 16, they face the team that beat them in the 2020 edition, after the break by Covid-19: the Bavarians inflicted a scandalous win (2-8) and brought to light the sporting and institutional crisis in which the club survived and whose consequences still endure.
Bayern have become an ogre for Barcelona in the last decade: In 2013-2014 he endorsed a 7-0 aggregate to the Catalans and in 2019-2020 he conceded 2-8, the club’s most resounding defeat in the last 50 years in any competition. Between the two teams they add a total of 11 titles in the maximum competition, but neither is the great favorite: PSG and Manchester City are the great aspirants.
Holding on to historical precedents
Barcelona do not start as favorites in the duel against Bayern, but the precedents are inescapable: they have not lost in the opening match of a Champions League edition since 1997/98, more than two decades ago. There are also other relatively recent good precedents: a 3-0 in the semifinals of the 2014-15 season and a 4-0 in 2009 with Messi, Eto’o and Henry in the Barça team..
Although it will be the first time in almost two decades that Messi does not play with the Barça shirt, the truth is that the Catalans have shown that they know how to win without the best player in the world: nine of the last ten games in which Leo was not present ended with victory. And, in addition, they only remained unmarked in one of the 23 occasions in which the Argentine did not play.