The next Barcelona match is upon us! The Blaugrana play the first leg of their Europa League Playoff tie against Napoli at Camp Nou, and Xavi Hernández has called up the following 20 players for Thursday’s game:
Bayern Munich didn’t entirely shake off their rust from the 4-2 loss at VfL Bochum with their 1-1 draw against RB Salzburg in the Champions League.
Julian Nagelsmann changed his starting lineup from the one that faltered at the Ruhrstadion, but still made the decision to start Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski together and slotted in Corentin Tolisso, taking Dayot Upamecano out of the back line.
Noah Okafor was forced off early with an injury and it was his direct replacement, Chukwubuike Adamu, that broke the deadlock for Salzburg in the 21st minute after a slight whiff from Benjamin Pavard. Coman rescued a draw for Bayern in the 90th minute with his goal and now it’s all to play for in the second leg at the Allianz Arena on March 8th.
Speaking after the match, Nagelsmann said that he was actually pleased with some of the things he saw, particularly in the second half when he was asked whether he noticed significant improvements from the Bochum loss. “Yes, then again in the second half. The first one wasn’t like Bochum, but it was also very error-prone. The goal that was conceded was actually relatively easy to defend.
It was a balancing act in the second half because we defended offensively,” he explained (Tz). Bayern had the lion’s share of their chances in the second half and had it not been for Pavard failing to make contact with the ball in the buildup to Adamu’s goal, Bayern could’ve left Salzburg with a win instead of a draw.
Xavi continues to navigate through several selection issues, and he’s missing a crucial piece of the defense in this one as Ronald Araujo has been left out with a calf problem. Dani Alves will watch from the stands as he isn’t part of Barça’s Europa League squad.
Also missing out due to injury are Ansu Fati (hamstring), Clément Lenglet (hamstring), Samuel Umtiti (foot), Sergi Roberto (thigh) and Alejandro Balde (ankle), while Memphis Depay has recovered from a muscle injury but is not quite fit to return yet.
The match kicks off at 6.45pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 5.45pm GMT (UK), 12.45pm ET, 9.45am PT (USA), 11.15pm IST (India), and you can join us to follow and comment all the action.