Chris Williams – DORTMUND, GERMANY
Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona – Tuesday, September 17, 20:00BST/21:00CEST – BVB Stadion Dortmund, Germany
Dortmund and Barcelona both fell to last season’s eventual finalists and the clubs have been pitted together in the proverbial ‘group of death’. A Matchday One victory will settle the early nerves in a competition both aim to make the latter stages of.
Lucien Favre’s Schwarzgelben couldn’t have asked for a better warm-up to the visit of the Spanish giants, a four-nil thrashing of neighbours Bayer Leverkusen enough to raise the smiles after a less than satisfactory start to their Bundesliga campaign.
The Swiss coach was happy, yet focused, during his post-match comments on the weekend – obviously with one eye on this fixture the 61-year-old knew that despite the victory, it is consistency that wins titles and cups.
“We didn’t make any major mistakes (against Leverkusen), we have to continue in the same vein. It’s important that we keep clean sheets – we can play possession-based football but we can also play on the counter-attack. I think we did a great job today” the Dortmund head coach said.
This particular matchup will be the first time that Paco Alcácer will face his old employees in the Champions League. Spain international Alcácer spent two years at the Camp Nou before his €21 million move to the Westfalenstadion became permanent in the summer.
Barcelona would be forgiven for baulking at the sound of the Champions League anthem Tuesday night. The Blaugrana have faced embarrassing exits at the semi-final stage for the previous two iterations of the cup competition – most famously last season as a 4-0 collapse at Anfield undid a 3-0 home win the week previous.
A midweek European break in North Rhine-Westphalia gives the Catalans a chance to forget what was a torrid weekend -Ernesto Valverde’s side left Bilbao with no points and occupy fifth in La Liga as the head coach’s problems persist.
Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona – Players to look out for:
Marco Reus #11 – Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund’s club captain netted twice over the weekend as BVB swept past fellow Champions League competitors Bayer Leverkusen. While it was very much an all-round team performance, their dependable number 11 remains a powerful figure when on the field.
When on his game, the 30-year-old’s all-round play is something to behold – be it linking up with the talent either side of him, or striking at goal on his own, the forward has everything in his locker to be a real threat to their visitors Tuesday.
Marc-André ter Stegen #1 – Barcelona
The Barca goalkeeper has been the talk of Germany of late, is he now better than Bayern München and Die Mannschaft number one, Manuel Neur?
A solid performance on home soil will only add to that debate, and Dortmund will be well aware of his capabilities at hand – and at the foot. The 27-year-old is as good with the ball on the floor as he is with it in the air.
Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona – Match Stats
- Only twice have the sides met in UEFA competition, the two-legged 1997 UEFA Super Cup which Barcelona won 3-1 on aggregate
- Dortmund start their eighth Champions League group campaign in the last nine seasons
- Barca are making their 16th successive appearance in the competition
- Paco Alcácer scored 10 goals in 37 Liga appearance for Barcelona, he’s now BVB’s lead striker
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona – 2-1
Borussia Dortmund vs Barcelona – Lineups
Bürki – Hakimi, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro – Witsel, Delaney – Sancho, Reus, Hazard – Alcácer
Head Coach: Lucien Favre
ter Stegen – Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Jordi Alba – Busquets – Sergi Roberto, F. de Jong – Perez, Suarez, Griezmann
Head Coach: Ernesto Valverde
Chris Williams is a freelance European football journalist. Covering the Bundesliga, Premier League and both of UEFA’s European club competitions. Published in both local and international publications, he also contributes to television and radio across the globe. A member of the UK’s Sports Journalist Association and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Follow Chris Williams on Twitter @Chris78Williams