FC Barcelona is making its European comeback. Undefeated in five La Liga matches, including four consecutive victories, the Blaugranas will attempt to improve upon last season’s performance, where they failed to advance from the Group C, also known as the “group of death,” which included Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. On the other hand, Royal Antwerp overcame AEK Athens in the playoffs to secure their first-ever Champions League appearance and now find themselves facing the formidable Barcelona, a five-time winner of the prestigious trophy.
For this match, Xavi, who is without Araujo and Pedri, has made only one change from the lineup that convincingly defeated Real Betis last weekend (5-0), with Gündogan replacing Oriol Romeu. ter Stegen starts in goal, Cancelo, Koundé, Christensen, and Baldé form the defense, De Jong and Gavi accompany the German in midfield, Raphinha and Félix occupy the wings, and Lewandowski leads the attack. On the other side, Mark van Bommel has opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Butez in goal, Wijndal, Alderweireld, Coulibaly, and Bataille in defense, Keita-Vermeeren in midfield, and Muja-Ekkenlenkamp-Balikwisha supporting Vanssen as the lone striker.
The official lineups are as follows:
FC Barcelona: ter Stegen – Cancelo, Koundé, Christensen, Baldé – Gündogan, De Jong, Gavi – Raphinha, Lewandowski, Félix
Royal Antwerp: Butez – Wijndal, Alderweireld, Coulibaly, Bataille – Keita, Vermeeren – Muja, Ekkenlenkamp, Balikwisha – Janssen
FC Barcelona’s lineup showcases the team’s attacking prowess, with Raphinha and Félix providing width and creativity on the wings, while Lewandowski spearheads the attack. The midfield trio of Gündogan, De Jong, and Gavi offers a perfect blend of experience, technical ability, and youthful exuberance. Defensively, Cancelo, Koundé, Christensen, and Baldé provide a solid foundation, with ter Stegen guarding the goal.
On the other hand, Royal Antwerp’s lineup reflects their intention to stay compact and organized defensively, while relying on the pace and creativity of Muja, Ekkenlenkamp, and Balikwisha to create scoring opportunities. Janssen will have the responsibility of leading the line and capitalizing on any chances that come his way.
Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses, and it will be fascinating to see how the match unfolds. FC Barcelona, with their rich European history and star-studded lineup, will be aiming to assert their dominance, while Royal Antwerp, in their maiden Champions League campaign, will be eager to make a statement and cause an upset.
As the players take to the field, anticipation and excitement fill the air. The stage is set for an enthralling encounter between two teams with contrasting ambitions and aspirations. Football fans around the world eagerly await the outcome of this clash, as the journey towards Champions League glory begins.