The two sides met in the second gameweek of the competition at the Allianz Arena. Barça were victims to a 2-0 defeat but were largely perceived as the team that played better.
All that matters not, however, as, after a defeat and a draw against Inter Milan, the Blaugranes have been left under the threat of relegation to the Europa League. And after spending nearly €200 million in the transfer window, that is far from an ideal scenario.
What is worse is that Barcelona are no longer in control of their immediate UCL future. Inter have the chance to qualify for the Round of 16 over the Catalans if they win against Viktoria Plzen, who they play two hours before Barcelona vs Bayern, no less.
Xavi has clarified that the team will look to get all three points against the Bavarians, either way. The first step to that will be choosing the ideal starting lineup.
First things first – Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been a revelation this season, returning to his best form. The German has been unplayable for the most part, and currently boasts the most clean sheets in the top five leagues this season.
A back-four will be guarding ter Stegen in goal, starting with Eric Garcia and Jules Kounde as the centre-halves. The duo look largely in sync, playing together, and should continue in their role ahead of Marcos Alonso.
The full-back areas have seen the most rotation under Xavi, and with Sergi Roberto injured, Hector Bellerin has the chance to give some competition to his compatriot, likely starting at right-back.
Alejandro Balde put in an excellent shift against Athletic Club on Sunday and should get the nod ahead of Jordi Alba and Marcos Alonso as the left-back.
The midfield is where Xavi will face the most confusion. Gavi picked up some muscle fatigue against Bilbao, but has been included in the squad list for the outing. With Franck Kessie’s form at present, we expect the Spaniard to start the game as an 8.
Xavi experimented with four midfielders in the same XI on the weekend, but given the speed of the contest, it is likely that Sergio Busquets gets benched, with Frenkie de Jong in his place at defensive midfield.
Pedri should round off Barcelona’s unit in the centre of the park, playing to the right of de Jong.
Barcelona scored four goals on Sunday, and Ousmane Dembele scored one, and assisted the rest of the three. On the back of a performance like that, it seems improbable that he will be dropped.
With the right-wing secure, it is likely that Xavi opts to not start Raphinha on the left again. Ferran Torres is coming off two goals and an assist in his last three games. The Spaniard has looked much sharper over the last week and should get the nod over Ansu Fati.
Finally, there is little debating the centre-forward position. Robert Lewandowski has it on lock this season, and his finishing over the last few days proves that he is more than ready to face a familiar face in Bayern.
Ferran · Lewandowski · Dembele
Gavi · de Jong · Pedri
Balde · Eric · Kounde · Bellerin
With this lineup and Xavi’s game-management in reference, there are two players that will surely come on sometime in the second half. Raphinha and Ansu Fati could replace the two wingers in more than one capacity and should get game-time.
In midfield, Sergio Busquets is definitely a candidate to get some minutes. Xavi has made it clear that the captain is still important to the team, and it seems unlikely that he will be dropped.
Bellerin is just returning from an injury, and definitely not the prime candidate for the right-back position. On that front, it seems plausible that Marcos Alonso or Jordi Alba could be brought on to replace him, with Balde shifting to the right.
Finally, Franck Kessie has to get more minutes under his belt, and will likely see some green tomorrow. Xavi has praised the Ivorian’s commitment in training, and his display against Athletic.