Bayern Munich host Barcelona on the final matchday in Champions League group E – and will be played behind closed doors on Wednesday evening.
The Bavarian behemoths have already sealed first place with five wins from their opening five games in the competition. Barcelona trail Bayern by eight points in second place but have Benfica breathing down their neck in third.
While a win in Munich would guarantee Barcelona’s qualification for the knockout rounds, anything less would rely on Benfica failing to defeat winless Dynamo Kyiv given the advantage the Portuguese giants have on head-to-head meetings with the Catalans this term.
When is kick off? Wednesday 8 December, 20:00 (GMT)
Where is the match being played? Allianz Arena
TV channel/live stream? BT Sport 3 (UK), TUDN (US), DAZN (Canada)
Highlights? BT Sport YouTube Channel
Referee? Ovidiu Hategan
VAR? Paolo Valeri
Julian Nagelsmann could take Wednesday’s free hit of a fixture as an opportunity to rest his well-worked core of starters. Lucas Hernandez’s likely absence is enforced though after the French centre back limped off in Saturday’s Klassiker following a nasty twist of the ankle.
Joshua Kimmich hasn’t featured for Bayern since the start of November with COVID-related quarantines, but his 14-day isolation is set to end ahead of the upcoming fixture, subject to a negative PCR test.
Marcel Sabitzer (calf) and Mickael Cuisance (knock) add to Bayern’s midfield absentees while Bouna Sarr (groin) and Josip Stanisic (ligament) leave little in the way of cover at right back.
You can read Bayern Munich’s predicted lineup here.
Barcelona‘s midfield prodigy Gavi was stretchered off in the first half of the club’s 1-0 loss to Real Betis on the weekend following a blow to the head. The 17-year-old was rushed to hospital but subsequently released and will, somewhat surprisingly, be available in midweek according to Spanish journalist Helena Condis.
Fellow teenager Pedri has been ruled out for the remainder of the calendar year after a relapse in his thigh injury. Sergi Roberto is afflicted with a problem in the same area but could be sidelined for as long as four months having decided to undergo surgery to permanently correct the issue.
Xavi has been keen to stress the need for players returning from injury to be ‘100%’ so as to avoid setbacks that have been so common at the club he rejoined a month ago. In light of that, Ansu Fati – despite his desperate importance to the side – won’t be risked.
You can read Barcelona’s predicted lineup here.
These continental behemoths share 11 European Cups between one another but the balance in their rivalry leans heavily in Bayern’s favour. Across just 12 previous meetings the Bavarians have triumphed eight times to Barcelona’s two, rattling in 11 goals across their two most recent encounters.
Barcelona are yet to record a single victory from five trips to Munich, boasting a pair of 1-1 draws as their best return. They will have to make history on Wednesday to progress unless Dynamo Kyiv do them a favour.
The famous 8-2 between these clubs will linger in the annals of history for decades to come but Barcelona’s limp 3-0 submission at home to Bayern earlier this season was arguably more damning.
Set up to prevent a similar scale mauling, Ronald Koeman’s side hunkered down and hoped for the best, registering just five shots – none on target – all evening in September. Barcelona replaced one former legend in the dugout with another a couple of months after that debacle, but Xavi has had barely 30 days with his new side.
If Bayern do rotate – which is hardly guaranteed – Barcelona’s slim chances widen, but they remain distinctly inferior to one of the favourites for the competition.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-1 Barcelona