Barcelona could hardly have asked for a tougher assignment as they begin their first Champions League campaign of the post-Lionel Messi era by hosting German giants Bayern Munich.
Messi ended his 21-year-long association with the Catalan club when he joined PSG this summer, with the Spanish club’s financial woes meaning they were unable to tie their talisman to a new contract.
The move sent shockwaves through European football and has dampened expectations about what Ronald Koeman’s side may be able to achieve this season. After a solid start to the LaLiga campaign, they face their first major test as a Bayern side already clicking into top gear arrive at the Nou Camp.
The 2019 Champions League winners thumped RB Leipzig 4-1 away from home on Saturday, though they are only second in the Bundesliga at this early stage, two points adrift of Wolfsburg who have made a perfect four-out-of-four start to the campaign.
You can follow all the action with Standard Sport’s LIVE blog below…
Busquets: We can win without Messi
So, Barcelona start a Champions League campaign without Lionel Messi for the first time since the 2003/04 season, but midfielder Sergio Busquets believes they still have what it takes to compete at the highest level without their talisman.
“Anything can happen in football,” the midfielder said this week. “Chelsea won the Champions League last season and were not favourites.
“The important thing is the collective level and we know that we do not have Leo or his individual qualities. We are here, excited and aware of the difficulty, but we have a lot of ambition and we want to win.”
Team news in full
Barcelona: ter Stegen, Araujo, Pique, Garcia, Busquets, Sergi Roberto, Frenkie de Jong, Pedro Gonzalez, Jordi Alba, Luuk de Jong, Depay.
Subs: Dest, Puig, Demir, Neto, Coutinho, Lenglet, Mingueza, Umtiti, Pena, Nico Gonzalez, Gavi, Balde.
Bayern Munich: Neuer, Pavard, Upamecano, Sule, Davies, Goretzka, Kimmich, Sane, Muller, Musiala, Lewandowski.
Subs: Richards, Gnabry, Coman, Choupo-Moting, Cuisance, Sabitzer, Sarr, Lucas, Roca, Kouassi, Ulreich, Stanisic.
And here is the Bayern XI…
Here’s how Barcelona line up tonight…
We should have all the team news from the Nou Camp very shortly…
The hosts have arrived…
Standard Sport prediction
Barcelona have steadied the ship following a tumultuous summer with an unbeaten start to the LaLiga season but Bayern pose a different threat altogether and after a bit of a sluggish start of their own in the Bundesliga, they have looked rampant in the past two games.
How to watch
TV channel: The match will be televised on BT Sport 3.
Live stream: BT Sport subscribers will be able to watch the match online via the website or BT Sport app.
Hello and welcome to Standard Sport’s LIVE coverage of tonight’s huge Champions League clash between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
We’ll have all the team news and build-up ahead of an 8pm kick-off…