The Battle of the FCBs is back, for the fourth time since 2020. Is it getting boring? Apparently not for UEFA. This time it’s Bayern Munich and not FC Barcelona who are struggling heading into the game, a big change compared to recent seasons.
Having seen his team succumb to draws in three consecutive Bundesliga matches, Julian Nagelsmann is under pressure to deliver a result at home against the Catalans, or else the direction of the entire project may be questioned. Does he have the tools to deliver? Well, let’s take a look.
In terms of injuries, only Kingsley Coman and Bouna Sarr are confirmed to be missing the game. Jamal Musiala, who suffered a knock against Stuttgart, is reportedly fine and should be a candidate to start. The whole team trained normally today with no signs of any issues.
So, let’s talk about the lineup. Who should start? Why has the team been underperforming? Well honestly, if you want an in-depth answer, you should check our our latest podcast episode. We covered everything from Bayern’s struggles in attack, to potential lineups vs Barcelona, to Xavi’s approach, and more. Listen to it below or at this link.
In short, you cannot play a game against FC Barcelona without Thomas Muller — the guy practically lives to score/assist against them. Starting alongside him will likely be Sadio Mane, who was rested vs Stuttgart ostensibly to have him fit for Barca. The duo will form the strike pairing at the head of a 4-2-2-2 (or a 4-2-3-1), with Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala the most likely candidates on form to play behind them.
In midfield, Nagelsmann already confirmed that Marcel Sabitzer would start in the dual pivot alongside Joshua Kimmich, with Leon Goretzka moving back to the bench. With Barca boasting a solid midfield with the likes of Pedri, Gavi, and Sergio Busquets, Bayern’s midfielders will have to bring their A-game to prevent the center of the pitch from being overrun. In any Champions League game, the midfield battle is absolutely critical, and Sabitzer’s role as a DM will be especially important to stifle Barca when they have possession.
In defense, Nagelsmann confirmed that Lucas Hernandez would start, showing that he acknowledges the threat posed by Barca’s new-look attack. With Robert Lewandowski up top supported by the likes of Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele, the Catalans arguably have a more frightening attack than Bayern’s.
Nagelsmann says he hasn’t decided who will play at center-back yet, but based on the season so far it might end up being Matthijs de Ligt. The Dutchman’s aerial prowess could prove crucial against a striker like Lewandowski, and his passing range and accuracy will also be invaluable. Alphonso Davies and Benjamin Pavard are likely to start at the left and right-back spots respectively, with Manuel Neuer resuming his duties in goal.
Here’s what the lineup should look like:
- Serge Gnabry instead of Jamal Musiala.
- Dayot Upamecano instead of Matthijs de Ligt.
Here’s what Bild thinks the lineup will be. Looks familiar.