Barcelona has welcomed key defenders Sergino Dest and Gerard Pique back from injury for Tuesday’s opening Champions League group stage fixture against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou.
Dest has recovered from a sprained ankle suffered on international duty with the USMNT, while Pique is back after picking up a calf problem against Athletic and has also been passed fit for the game.
The two players are part of a 23-man squad for the visit of Bayern.
Left-back Jordi Alba is also included, although there are concerns about the Spain international’s fitness. He missed the team’s final training session on Tuesday morning ahead of the match, as reported by Diario Sport.
Coach Ronald Koeman will be hoping Alba is fit as he lacks alternative options at left-back following the departure of Junior Firpo. The only other recognized left-back in the squad is 17-year-old Alejandro Balde.
Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Koeman Talks Bayern Threat
Koeman spoke about the threat offered by Bayern in his pre-match press conference on Monday, as reported by the club’s official website. The Dutchman is well aware the game comes just 13 months after Bayern handed Barca an 8-2 thrashing in the Champions League but feels his team will cause the visitors problems.
“We know perfectly well that Bayern are a great side with experience and great individual quality. It will be a tough game but we are looking forward to competing in the Champions League and we want to get a good result in the opening fixture,” he said. “We have had changes in the squad and we need time. But in football there is not much time and the game against Bayern is an interesting one from which we can draw some conclusions about where we are.”
The 58-year-old also spoke about how his team can hurt Bayern. He added, “It’s important to have the ball and look for spaces to bring it out from the back. We have to be aware of Bayern’s quick counter attacks – they are very strong and we cannot afford to give the ball away.”
Barcelona Not Worse Off Without Messi
Bayern Munich boss Julien Nagelsmann also faced the press to preview the game and the prospect of facing a Barcelona side without talisman Lionel Messi. Nagelsmann says he is still expecting a tough test, as reported by Goal.
“They’ve no longer got someone as extravagant as Messi, but they have other players who can make a difference. We are prepared for everything, ” he explained, “I’m not of the opinion that they are a lot worse off now. [Whether we are] favourites or not favourites is always more of a media topic. Two world clubs are meeting. On the one hand, the form on the day will decide, but on the other hand, [there is] motivation – and that one will be extremely high with us.”
Barca has enjoyed an unbeaten start to the season in 2021-22 but struggled to impress against Athletic and Getafe. Tuesday’s match against Bayern should offer supporters a chance to see how the team measures up against one of the best in Europe.