Barcelona are on the verge of Champions League elimination.
To keep alive their slightest hope of a miraculous survival, the Blaugrana must defeat Bayern Munich at home on Wednesday night at home.
Xavi’s side was shaping out to be one of the teams to watch this season after having a stunning summer transfer window.
Despite their financial limitations, Barcelona managed to spend big and bring in top class players like Raphinha, Jules Kounde, Robert Lewandowski, and Franck Kessie.
They also managed to keep hold of Ousmane Dembele, who seemed destined to leave the club. Barca fans were looking forward to a resurgent season.
The Catalonians have had a commendable La Liga campaign so far. Before the El Clasico loss to Real Madrid, Barcelona were on a seven match winning streak. They now sit second at the table, trailing league leaders Real Madrid by three points.
It has been a whole different story in Europe, however. Barcelona have managed only one win from their four Champions League group matches so far.
After opening their Champions League mission with a 2-0 defeat to Bayern Munich at home, Barca bounced back with a win against Croatian outfit Viktoria Plzen.
But they fell to Inter Milan in a 1-0 defeat at San Siro. A 3-3 draw in the reverse fixture all but ensured that Barcelona will be relegated to the Europa League for the second successive season.
Barcelona will already know their Champions League fate before facing Bayern Munich at Camp Nou.
If Inter manage to pick up three points against Plzen at home, Barca’s Europa League exile will be confirmed. In that case, the Bayern match will lose its significance as a do-or-die match for the La Liga giants.
The narrative has been exactly the opposite for Bayern Munich this season.
Julian Nagelsmann’s men have struggled at home as they find themselves leading the chasing pack behind league toppers Union Berlin. But the Bavarians have been characteristically ruthless in Europe.
Having won all four of their group matches so far, Bayern will come to Camp Nou only for the sake of formality and bragging rights. Maybe a win away at Barcelona will inspire the team to do better in the German league.
Head to head record
Barcelona had been one of Bayern’s most favourite European opponents.
In the previous 16 meetings between the two sides, the Bundesliga giants have had the last laugh no less than eleven times.
They have lost to Barca only three times and shared the spoils with them twice.
Barcelona will be without Andreas Christensen and Ronald Araujo at defence. So Jules Kounde and Eric Garcia will renew their centre-back partnership.
Memphis Depay will not be involved as he recuperates from a hamstring injury.
Bayern Munich are likely to make wholesale changes to the team that beat Hoffenheim 2-0 away from home.
Sadio Mane and Marcel Sabitzer might return to the starting XI.
Leroy Sane will not be flying to Barcelona as he is sidelined with an injury.
Manuel Neuer, Bouna Sarr, Lucas Hernandez and Kingsley Coman will also stay home to deal with their respective injury problems.
Barcelona might bring Bayern’s winning run in Europe to an end.
Since Bayern has already won the group, Nagelsmann could rest some of his key players and experiment.
So, Barcelona will be favourites to win. However, it could be too little too late for the Catalonians. We say 2-0 for Barcelona.