The Spanish champions start their European journey towards the Belgian champions within the group stage opener
FC Barcelona vs Royal Antwerp FC
Competitors/Spherical: 2023-24 Champions League, Group H, Matchday 1
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Pedri, Ronald Araujo (out)
Antwerp Outs & Doubts: Björn Engels, Ortwin De Wolf, Kobe Corbanie, Jacob Ondrejka
Date/Time: Tuesday, September 19, 2023, 9pm CET (Barcelona), 8pm BST/WAT (UK & Nigeria), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 12.30am IST (India, Wednesday)
Venue: Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, Montjuïc, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Referee: Radu Petrescu (ROU)
VAR: Ovidiu Haţegan (ROU)
Learn how to watch on TV: TUDN (USA), TNT Sports activities 4 (UK), SuperSport (Nigeria), SONY TEN 3 (India), Movistar Liga de Campeones (Spain), others
Following a sensational victory over Actual Betis to return from the worldwide break in model, Barcelona start their continental journey this season as they welcome Belgian champions Royal Antwerp to the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium for his or her Champions League group stage opener on Tuesday evening.
Barça come into this one after a wide ranging exhibiting and a really spectacular victory towards a great Betis crew, with an excellent crew show and distinctive particular person performances all throughout the lineup. It was the perfect model of Xavi Hernández’s imaginative and prescient for this crew, and it units the requirements for what they are often this season.
Due to simply how dominant they seemed on the weekend, it’s simple to take a look at Barça going up towards a crew making their first-ever group stage look within the Champions League at dwelling and anticipating one other domination. However that is 2023, and soccer has modified.
Simply since you don’t know a crew nicely, it doesn’t imply they’re weak and don’t have an opportunity. Antwerp gained the Belgian league final season and went by a gauntlet to get to the group stage, and a fast scan of the squad reveals quite a few high-level veterans who’ve performed vital roles within the largest leagues in Europe and play alongside some very thrilling prospects.
They’re coached by a well-known face in former Barça midfielder Mark van Bommel, and the Dutchman is saying his crew gained’t be afraid to check themselves towards the mighty Blaugrana and can attempt to play their aggressive, bodily, attacking model at Montjuïc.
Barça are apparent favorites, even when Xavi Hernández rotates his aspect and makes some modifications to the crew that beat Betis, because the native press expects. Even with a weaker crew the Blaugrana could have greater than sufficient to get the win, but it surely won’t be as simple as many suppose.
Antwerp deserve respect, not solely from us as followers, however extra importantly from Xavi and the Barça gamers. If the Catalans don’t take this as a right and play with the identical urgency as they did on the weekend, they need to make this simple. In the event that they don’t, it may very well be a irritating evening.
It’s time to listen to that lovely anthem once more, and it’s time to start out an European journey that hopefully doesn’t finish in embarrassment once more. And it’s vital to set the tone within the first recreation, exhibiting the remainder of Group F that they’re combating for second place.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Roberto, Kounde, Iñigo, Balde; Gündogan, Romeu, De Jong; Yamal, Lewandowski, Félix
Antwerp (4-2-3-1): Butez; Bataille, Alderweireld, Coulibaly, De Laet; Keita, Vermeeren; Muja, Ekkelenkamp, Balikwisha; Janssen
Everyone seems to be anticipating Barça to steamroll an unknown crew, however that’s not how soccer works nowadays. I don’t suppose this might be simple from minute one and it would take some time for Barça to separate and at last set up their dominance, however they’ll appear like the higher crew ultimately and get off to a profitable begin within the group: 3-0 to the nice guys.