Barcelona may well be top of what is arguably the group of death, but there is certainly an argument to suggest that the position flatters Ernesto Valverde’s side who could still be in deep trouble in Group F should they lose to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.
The group is precariously balanced. Barcelona lead on eight points, closely followed by Dortmund on seven while Inter sit in third on four points and Slavia Prague are bottom on two points.
This means defeat for the La Liga champions could see them head to the San Siro on Matchday Six needing to avoid defeat against Antonio Conte’s side – or face an early exit.
A draw for the Catalans doesn’t improve the picture much either. If Inter win in Prague and follow that up with another victory against Barca at the climax of the group, Dortmund would simply have to beat the bottom side to send Valverde’s men crashing out.
As for Lucien Favre’s men, as long as they can take three points in their final game against Slavia Prague, Inter must beat Barcelona at the San Siro to qualify. So strangely, the German side can travel to the Nou Camp with a degree of expressive fearlessness against the a home side that have looked rigid for a long time now.
Read on for Barcelona vs Borussia Dortmund preview, predictions, team news, TV info and more.
When is Barcelona vs Borussia Dortmund and where can I watch live?
Competition: Champions League
Venue: Nou Camp
Date: Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Kick-off: 8:00 PM (UK time)
TV coverage (UK): BT Sport ESPN
Previous meetings: Barcelona vs Borussia Dortmund
17 September 2019: Dortmund 0-0 Barcelona (Champions League)
11 March 1998: Dortmund 1-1 Barcelona (UEFA Super Cup Final)
8th January 1998: Barcelona 2-0 Dortmund (UEFA Super Cup Final)
Ones to watch
Barcelona: Junior Firpo
Barcelona will be forced to play a weakened back four against their German counterparts on Wednesday. The fulcrum of the Catalans’ back four – Gerard Pique – is suspended, and the two first choice full-backs – Nelson Semedo and Jordi Alba – are both injured.
The latter is expected to be replaced by Junior Firpo, the 23-year-old dynamic left back signed by Barcelona in the summer for £15 million from Real Betis. His pace and frame make him an almost like-for-like replacement stylistically, and whilst Alba’s experience is almost impossible to match, Firpo will have to show maturity in what could be his Champions League debut.
Firpo will have to shoulder a lot of responsibility too. With Barcelona’s front line tailored to play in central areas, the impetus will be on the full-backs to provide width and energy in attack.
That whilst also being all to aware of Dortmund’s devastating counter attacking threat. It is also likely he will face Jadon Sancho in the one-on-one battle, which is a test that will provide an eye-opening introduction to Champions League football.
Borussia Dortmund: Achraf Hakimi
Speaking of full-backs, few have made quite as big an impact in the final third this season than Dortmund’s Hakimi. The Moroccan left back has bagged four goals in the Champions League already, placing him in the top 10 goalscorers.
Add that to his three goals and three assists in the Bundesliga and suddenly you are looking at one of the most unsung defenders in world football.
Hakimi will teach us one thing on Wednesday though – how easy is it to cause havoc from full-back when Lionel Messi is drifting into your channel at the other end? Depending on how BVB decide to approach the game, defence could be the priority for Favre as he looks to nick a win and make qualification a near formality. Either way, we will likely discover just how well-rounded Hakimi is.
It will be the defence that presents issues for Barcelona. Pique’s absence will present a vacuum of leadership at the back, while the left-back position will likely be filled by Firpo. Right-back presents a dilemma for Valverde. It is likely he will opt for the dependable Sergi Roberto despite Moussa Wague having played against Leganes on Saturday.
Predicted XI: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Umtiti, Lenglet, Fürpo, Vidal, Busquets, De Jong, Messi, Suarez, Griezmann.
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Favre will be scratching his chin in contemplation after his side went 0-3 before half time on Friday night against the Bundesliga’s bottom side Paderborn. It was Dortmund’s own strengths in attack that proved to be their undoing – pace on the break and deadly finishing.
The Germans recovered an unlikely 3-3 draw, but a similar start won’t be as easily redeemable against one of the best side’s in Europe. Julian Weigl will likely be withdrawn at centre back as Favre favours a more natural option in Manuel Akanji.
A big miss for Dortmund will be the former Barcelona forward Paco Alcacer who is out with a stomach bug. Bruns Larsen and Thomas Delaney are also unavailable.
Predicted XI: Burki, Piszczek, Akanji, Hummels, Hakimi, Witsel, Weigl, Sancho, Reus, Hazard, Gotze.
Dortmund without doubt should have secured three points in the reverse fixture in September. Marco Reus missed a one-on-one and was also denied from the penalty sport following a strong outstretched save by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
On Wednesday, Dortmund will likely have fewer chances, fewer openings and less of the ball. Having said that, with Barcelona’s defence depleted and lacking experience, chances will probably present themselves to the visitors. Taking them will be the important part if BVB are to condemn Messi and co. to a tense final game in Milan.
Barcelona have been unconvincing thus far, but through sheer wealth of natural ability (and possessing the best player of all time), they have tip-toed to top spot thus far, and should just about survive a dynamic Dortmund side to win.
Scoreline prediction: Barcelona 2-1 Borussia Dortmund