Barcelona has been drawn with Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, and Slavia Prague for this season’s Champions League group stages and will be looking to begin on a high to establish their dominance from the onset in a competition in which they have exited in disappointing fashion for two seasons running.
Barcelona will be going into the Champions League campaign as favourites to clinch the trophy in 2020, and on the back of a shaky albeit impressive league form in which they have scored 11 goals and conceded five after four La Liga games, with the latest victory against Valencia seeing the return of Luis Suarez in stunning fashion.
They will be going into this Champions League campaign with a well-rested Lionel Messi, who has been recovering from injury and has not played a minute of football in all competitions this season. They have also acquired Antoine Griezmann who is already looking like a Barcelona player after just a handful of games. They also shored up their midfield with Frenkie de Jong who played a key part in Ajax’s run to the semi-finals last season.
We take a look at how the seasons of Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, and Slavia Prague have begun to have a view of their form going into the first round of group stage matches in the Champions League.
Barcelona will kick off their Champions League campaign against Bundesliga runners-up, Borussia Dortmund who will be coming into the season on the back of strong performances in the Bundesliga, and finally kept their first clean sheet of the Bundesliga season against fellow Champions League team, Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
They responded well to their capitulation against Bundesliga newcomers Union Berlin just before the international break by the 4-0 thumping of Leverkusen to keep up the momentum they started with, having previously disposed of Augsburg and Köln in emphatic fashion. Their attack, spearheaded by Paco Alcacer, has been rejuvenated this season, with the former Barcelona man scoring loads while breaking various goalscoring records in the process.
Dortmund’s momentum will be hard to stop especially at Westfalenstadion where Barcelona will be playing the first match of the Champions League campaign. With Barcelona’s poor away form of recent, there is a lot to look forward to in this tie.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Jadon Sancho
The English teenager has been a bright spark this season as he aims to make it the season which sees him stop being seen as a budding talent and as a world-beater. He has assisted four goals in four games for his teammates this season while contributing two goals to the process. A grand performance against Barcelona may just be what he needs to set the ball rolling for his emergence this season.
Inter have been consistent enough in the Serie A this season, haven’t been entirely convincing, asides from their 4-0 trashing of Serie A newcomers, Lecce on the opening day of the Serie A season.
Inter have won all three of their opening games, battling to a 2-1 victory against Cagliari and struggling to double their lead against Udinese in a 1-0 victory. Their solidity at the back, however, is a positive going into the first matchday and Barcelona will find it difficult to crack the defence when they need on the second matchday.
Barcelona are a team that can penetrate defences however, and have beaten a Conte team before, in the 2017/18 season.
While Barcelona battle Dortmund, Inter will be welcoming Slavia Prague to the Giuseppe Meazza stadium and will be expected to make the most of the match.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Stefano Sensi
The Italian midfielder who joined Inter on loan has been a staple in the Inter side so far, working his socks off to help his team in the league and chipping in with two goals in the process. A strong midfield battle between the Inter man and Barcelona’s midfield is poised to ensue with over two legs.
Barcelona will play their third match of the Champions League group stages against the Czech First League champions and will be expected to make the most of this match.
They have started their title defence strongly, having won all of their matches till date while playing well.
They are still newbies to the Champions League, having only qualified once previously, and Barcelona, as well as Inter and Dortmund, will want to take advantage of their inexperience in the competition.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Tomas Soucek
They have been very effective in defence and attack, but their defence was most notable due to the performances of team captain Tomas Soucek. He’s a brilliant defensive midfielder and could prove tough to crack. One man doesn’t make a team, however, but Barcelona will do well to avoid him or stifle him.