Barca, Atletico one last dance in the Champions League
Xavi Hernandez faces his first big test as Barcelona coach with the club at risk of failing to make the Champions League knockout stages for the first time in two decades. Barca find themselves on the ropes ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Germany, but it could have been far worse if only Benfica forward Haris Seferovic’s didn’t miss a glaring goal opportunity in stoppage time at Camp Nou.
Bayern are one of three teams with a perfect record in this season’s competition, and Robert Lewandowski’s who is the highest goal scorer will be looking for ways to inflict more pains on an already weakened Barca side.
Xavi rested key players in their last game against Real Betis with a view to the game in Munich, where victory would guarantee Barca a ticket into the round of 16, extending their 20-year run of reaching the knockout phase.
Failure to secure maximum points would open the door for Benfica to pip them to second place, with the Portuguese needing to beat Dynamo Kiev in Lisbon.
Spanish champions Atletico Madrid have their work cut to secure one of the five unclaimed last-16 tickets after three defeats on the spin, while all four teams remain in the hunt in an unpredictable Group G.
Porto, AC Milan and Atletico will battle it out for the second qualification spot behind Liverpool in Group B in what looks like a dramatic final end to the 2021/2022 UEFA Champions league Group stage.
Only a victory will do in Portugal otherwise Atletico will go out in the group stage for only the second time under Simeone.
Later this month, it will be exactly a decade since Diego Simeone took over Atletico who were 10th on the log and having not finished in the top three for 16 years, except for when they once finished first, in the second division. In nine complete seasons under Simeone, they have never been out of La Liga’s top three.