Barcelona profiled: Everything you need to know
On Tuesday, 14 September, at 21:00 CEST, the floodlights will come on for one of the biggest clashes in European club football. FC Bayern, led by head coach Julian Nagelsmann will kick off the 2021/22 Champions League campaign against Barcelona at the iconic Camp Nou. For Barça, it's the first year following the Lionel Messi era and fcbayern.com has put together everything you need to know about the opposition ahead of the first matchday of the group stage, including the squad details, how they've fared so far this season, and the record of previous meetings between the two great rivals.
When thinking about Barcelona and the previous clashes, the evening of 14 August 2020 immediately pops into every Bayern fan's head. On the way to clinching the 2020 CL title, the German record champions progressed to the semi-finals of Europe's premier club competition thanks to a magnificent 8-2 triumph over the Catalans - a night that no-one will forget in a hurry. But it's not only the last meeting so far that speaks in favour of Bayern, but also the overall record of the two rivals. The teams have met in a total of eleven competitive matches. FC Bayern won seven of them, twice it ended all square, while Barcelona came out on top on two occasions. In their first meeting with the Spaniards, Bayern secured a place in the 1996 UEFA Cup final, and the first and second legs of the 2013 CL semi-final (4-0 and 3-0 respectively) were also particularly memorable.
Season so far: Unbeaten in La Liga
Last season, in the first year under coach Ronald Koeman, the Catalans had to settle for third place in La Liga behind the two Madrid clubs Atlético and Real. In the Champions League, too, they were knocked out in the Round of 16 by Paris Saint-Germain. Things went better in domestic competition, however, with Barcelona triumphing in the cup. They're unbeaten so far this season and have taken seven points from their first three games. Two wins against Real Sociedad and Getafe were offset by a draw at Athletic Bilbao. Memphis Depay, who joined Barça from Olympique Lyon in the summer, has been particularly impressive, scoring two goals and providing one assist.
Pep Guardiola, Thiago, Philippe Coutinho, Udo Lattek, Mark van Bommel, Mark Hughes, Arturo Vidal, Louis van Gaal and Patrick Andersson: the list of players and coaches with a past at FC Bayern and Barcelona is a long one. Two of them, Thiago and Coutinho, actually played for FC Bayern in their last meeting to date. The latter scored goals seven and eight for Bayern and could be in the Barça squad on Tuesday after returning from injury. In 2006, aggressive leader van Bommel also made the move from Catalonia to the Bavarian capital. The first direct transfer between the clubs took place in 1987 when FC Bayern loaned striker Hughes. Only Vidal (2018) and Andersson (2001) have gone in the opposite direction There have also been big names with a common history in the dugout. Lattek, van Gaal and Guardiola were head coaches at both Barcelona and Bayern.
Year one after Messi
"Good players have left, but we have players who can replace them. Barcelona will always be in the running for every trophy. We're not favourites for the Champions League, but the other teams will respect us," said Barça newcomer Sergio Agüero in an interview with the radio station "RAC1" about the shake-up in the summer. In addition to the departure of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain, another top-class player, Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid), left the Catalans shortly before the transfer deadline. Even though Barcelona will probably be without Agüero (calf problems) in their clash with FC Bayern, the squad still has plenty to offer. In addition to experienced players like Marc-André ter Stegen, Gerard Piqué, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets and Coutinho, all of whom have already won the Champions League, there are numerous talented young players like Sergiño Dest, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Ansu Fati in the line-up. However, the Catalans will be without ex-Dortmund player Ousmane Dembélé, who is out due to a thigh injury.
Check out FC Bayern's other opponents in the group stage: