The Financial Express

It's FCB vs FCB tonight

| Updated: November 24, 2021 02:06:37

Photo: Marca Photo: Marca

Barcelona will be hosting Benfica in an important Uefa Champions League group stage clash tonight. 

They approach this game with a fear that never struck them in a long time, a scene which Camp Nou forgot a long time ago. 

Failing to win this math will mean FC Barcelona will potentially be knocked out from the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, an event unprecedented for the last 19 years. On the other hand, the higher the risk, the higher the return. A win in this game would ensure Barca the second round from here.

For Benfica, losing guarantees their knock-out from the UCL, however, winning does not guarantee anything. They will still have to avoid losing in the final game week against Dynamo Kyiv. 

Again, if they lose against Kyiv and Barca win against Bayern, then a win against Barca tonight will be of no use for Benfica. However, with their recent form, that scenario is unlikely. 

This will be the first match for Xavi Hernandez as a manager in the Champions League, a tournament which he himself won 4 times. So he knows the pressure of these big European nights and how to win them. 

However, he has a really demoralised Barcelona side with minimal spirit and injury problems. This team only scored two goals and concede six in 4 UCL games this season. 

Also, their last meeting with the Portuguese giants was a disaster, to say the least. A 3-0 defeat in that game is the reason they are in such a position now. 

Xavi is supposed to bring fresh air to this side. But he neither got the time nor the resource. He will not have Pedri and Ansu Fati tonight. Dembele and Dest are also a major doubt. If Dembele and Dest do not play, then he will have to prepare a XI with practically zero wingers. 

Benfica, on the other hand, are coming to this match scoring 10 goals in the last two games. But the last two defeats against Bayern has really shaken them. So this game is no less important for them than for the Catalan giants. They do not have any major absentees which is a huge plus point for them.

With Bayern already qualifying for the knock-out stage and Dynamo Kyiv being already knocked-out, there is room for ‘only one FCB’ now.

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