Bayern Munich have already entered the Last 16 as team winners, but are looking for a sixth win in six games in the group stage when they host Barcelona, who beat them 3-0 at the Camp Nou in September.
Barcelona are in second place in Group E but needs to win at the Allianz Arena, which will be without fans due to the high number of Covid-19 cases in Bavaria, to secure a place in the last 16.
Julian Nagelsmann still plans to include Bayern’s “best available team”, but at least two of his stars are struggling. “Leon (Goretzka) has stopped training and, he will probably not play, with Serge Gnabry,” Nagelsmann said on Tuesday. The plum European tie also comes too early for both Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Joshua Kimmich, who are close to going out on their own after being tested for Covid-19.
Julian Nagelsmann disclosed that in the Choupo-Moting case, “the aftermath of the disease is so severe that we will wait until next week, even if he does not have it”. Kimmich will end up sitting alone on the day of the game, but “after a four-week break, it doesn’t make sense” for him to play, added Nagelsmann. The Bayern manager said it “sounded strange” to face Barcelona in front of the empty Allianz Arena. The Bayern manager and his team are looking for a complete set of six wins to complete the group stages as reaching the last 16 “was crucial and a sixth win would be good”.
The only time Bayern won six of the six was 2019/20 on the road to winning the UEFA Champions League as part of a treble along with the Bundesliga and the German Cup titles. Nagelsmann has already seen the impact of Xavi Hernandez, who has been in charge of Barcelona’s struggling team four weeks ago but lost for the first time as head coach last weekend.
“They protect a little under him (Hernandez),” Nagelsmann said. “Counter-pressing is like the days of Pep (Guardiola). That frees up space, but you have to first get rid of the pressure.”