Barcelona vs Benfica Final – LIVE Reddit Soccer 24/11/2021
Koeman, who’s future at the club is reportedly under immense threat, suffered a 3-0 home loss to Bayern Munich in the first game of the group stages, and will be looking to bounce back. One positive from recent times at Barcelona has been the return of Ansu Fati. The wonderkid has been out for nearly an entire year through injury, yet he’s still only 18, and he returned with a bang – scoring on his return after appearing as an 81st minute sub. A start still seems a little way off, so Koeman won’t be able to use Fati from the off against Benfica, although he could be useful option off the bench if needed.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the undisputed number one, and will once again start in goal. As for the back four, an injury to Jordi Alba, and Alejandro Balde as well for that matter, means that Oscar Mingueza will play at right-back, with Sergino Dest once again playing as the left-back. The USA international played there in the win over Levante so it’s not an entirely new position for him. Ronald Araujo and Gerard Pique is the most likely centre-back partnership, but Eric Garcia may be handed a start in place of Araujo.
Pedri is a doubt following an injury picked up against Bayern, meaning a midfield double pivot of Frenkie de Jong, fresh from league suspension, and Sergio Busquets will be utilised. 17-year-old Gavi has been given minutes by Koeman, and after impressing so far, he may well start on the right, with Philippe Coutinho as the No.10, and Memphis Depay on the left. Luuk de Jong will lead the line, with the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite injured, while, as mentioned before, Fati will be on the substitutes bench to start with.
In a game where no fewer than 20 shots were fired – 12 of which came from Benfica’s attacking contingent – neither the Portuguese side nor Dynamo Kiev could break down the other’s defence during a goalless stalemate on matchday one.
Jesus’s men had to do it the hard way to book their spot in the group stages after a one-year absence – overcoming Spartak Moscow and PSV in the qualifying rounds – but they have not let their domestic fortunes take a hit as their perfect start to the league season continued at the weekend.
Summer signing Roman Yaremchuk bagged a brace before Joao Mario added gloss to the scoreline in a 3-1 success over Vitoria Guimaraes on Saturday – their seventh win from as many games in the 2021-22 Primeira Liga – and they have chalked up at least two goals in every game that they have scored in this term.
However, the two games in which they have failed to score this season have been their last two Champions League battles – both of which came away from home, though – and the Portuguese giants welcome Barcelona to a ground where they have won five out of five this term.
Jesus’s men have also come up trumps in five of their last six Champions League games at the Estadio da Luz including qualifiers, and given Barcelona’s wholly underwhelming start to the campaign, one would not put it past the hosts to keep that stellar run going.
With the pressure on his shoulders growing heavier by the week, under-fire Catalan coach Ronald Koeman saw his side blown away by Bayern on the opening matchday in the Champions League, as the Camp Nou crowd witnessed their side lose 3-0 to the German giants.
Thomas Muller broke the deadlock in the opening 45 minutes before Robert Lewandowski’s second-half brace killed any hopes of a Blaugrana comeback, but the Catalan club at least head into Wednesday’s game on the back of a morale-boosting league win.
Still unbeaten in the 2021-22 La Liga season, a youthful Barcelona side – one bedevilled by injuries, illnesses and suspensions – saw off Levante 3-0 on Sunday, as Memphis Depay and Luuk de Jong struck before Ansu Fati marked his comeback game with a goal 10 minutes after being introduced.
Barca ended a three-game winless run in all competitions with Sunday’s triumph, but doubts persist over the long-term future of Koeman in the hotseat, in spite of reports claiming that the club cannot afford to sack the Dutchman at present.
Barca travel to the Estadio da Luz unbeaten in their last eight Champions League away games, though, and they have kept clean sheets in each of their last four meetings with Benfica, the most recent of which ended 0-0 at Camp Nou in the 2012-13 group stage.