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FC Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández expects a tight game vs Bayern Munich

This Champions League matchup has not been kind for Barça, but it’s never too late to change.

Lewandowski and De Jong stretch during training at the Allianz
Two players with plenty of Bayern intrigue this summer — Robert Lewandowski and Frenkie de Jong, now Barcelona teammates
Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

FC Barcelona make the trip to Germany in the Champions League’s most anticipated match of the group stages. It marks Robert Lewandowski’s return to Bavaria to face his old teammates at Bayern Munich, and the Catalan club’s first big chance on the international stage to show how far their financial levers have gotten them. Barça coach Xavi Hernández spoke confidently to the press before the game, but is under no illusions about the scale of the challenge.

“We’re talking about Bayern, one of the best teams in the world,” said Xavi, as captured by @iMiaSanMia. “We never won in Munich before, it’s a difficult place to play in. But we have the feeling that we can win this game and finally change this dynamic.

“I’m expecting a tight game. Both teams want to have the ball and we will suffer when we don’t have it. I think it will be a very intense and aggressive game. We’ll try to dominate the game and monopolize possession.”

That’s going to be easier said than done against a well-drilled side under Julian Nagelsmann that are themselves no strangers to the positional game and dominating possession. It might even play into Bayern’s hands, as they’ll be lethal on the counter — if Barça’s wide creative outlets in Ousmane Dembelé and Raphinha don’t unlock the sometimes lax Bavarian defenses first.

But between Leroy Sané, Jamal Musiala, Alphonso Davies, and others, Bayern have the lightning pace and nifty technicality to do some lock-picking of their own — especially if the gegenpress can help Bayern recover the ball in advanced positions while Barcelona’s new-look everything are out of sorts.

“They have great young players with big potential that can make the difference,” Xavi acknowledged. “I would highlight their high pressure and how they can break the defensive line. They have been doing well for years.”

It’s a new era for both clubs now, with Bayern’s memorable 8-2, 3-0, and 3-0 trouncings of their La Liga rivals long in the rearview mirror.

“Many things have changed,” as Xavi said. But he acknowledged: “...we have to stay humble and remember that we had a bad time.”

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