Spanish champions Barcelona have made a strong start to the La Liga this season. Similarly, the same can be said of Royal Antwerp in the Belgian Jupiler Pro League. Although Barcelona started the season with a barren draw at Getafe. A game in which Xavi and winger Raphinha were both sent off. In the first home game of the season, it took a while for them to break down a stubborn Cadiz side, but in the end, goals from Pedri and Ferran Torres in the final ten minutes secured their first win of the season.
After that, Barcelona traveled to Villarreal for their first major test of the season and the game equally delivered in a seven-goal thriller. 16-year-old Lamine Yamal was the star of the show as he combined with Gavi for the opener while also playing a part in another goal. Torres made it two in two, while Robert Lewandowski grabbed his first goal of the season.
Barcelona started the month on a winning note, beating Osasuna 2-1 at Pamplona. Jules Kounde got his first goal of the season before the home side equalized in the second half. However, Lewandowski smashed home a late penalty to secure the win in the end.
Ahead of their Champions League campaign, Barcelona prepared for this clash in style with a five-star performance against Real Betis in La Liga at the weekend. Barcelona were in excellent form as they demolished a weak Betis side at the Nou Camp in what was largely a one-sided affair. Summer signing Joao Felix made quite an impression on his full debut for the Catalans as he scored his first goal for the club before Robert Lewandowski made it 2-0 before half time. Second half goals from Raphinha, Ferran Torresand Joao Cancelo saw off a comfortable evening for Xavi Hernandez’ men as the reigning champions moved back to the top of La Liga.
Elsewhere, Royal Antwerp have played almost double of Barcelona’s games this season. The Belgians started the season on a winning note against Cercle Brugge before losing to Anderlecht 1-0 seven days later. The Great Old returned to winning ways in stunning fashion by beating Kortrijk 6-0 before playing out a 1-1 draw with Leuven.
Royal Antwerp continued their season in the UEFA Champions League play-offs against AEK Athens. The Belgians defeated the Greek side on both legs (3-1 on aggregate) to book their spot in the group stages of the competition. They followed that success up with a thrilling 2-2 draw at Royale Union before beating Westerlo 3-0 on the road to record their first win of the season on the road.
This will be Barcelona’s 28th Champions League campaign, the joint-most along with fellow Spanish giants Real Madrid. Additionally, they’ve participated in every campaign since 2004/05, making it their 20th consecutive appearance in the competition. The last time Royal Antwerp played in the European Cup was in 1957.
Going by that, Antwerp have little or no experience playing at this level of European football and their record against Spanish teams is not great either. They have lost all three of their away games against Spanish sides by an aggregate score of 10-0. To make matters worse, Barcelona have never lost a home game against Belgian opposition (seven wins and one draw).
The match at Estadi Olímpic in Barcelona kicks off on Tuesday 19th September, at 8 PM UK time and it will be shown live on TNT Sports (formerly BT Sport), with coverage starting from around 7 PM.
Barcelona played poorly in the UEFA Champions League last season and that saw them drop to the Europa League. Starting at the 54,367-capacity stadium, Barcelona will be keen to make a better statement this season. Par for the course, Royal Antwerp should have their fans support them in this game.
Barcelona are not playing at Camp Nou this season and the stadium they have settled for is almost 40 thousand smaller than their usual home. With that in mind, getting tickets for FC Barcelona vs Royal Antwerp tickets could be difficult to get. Hence, you are advised to search ticket reselling sites should they be expectedly sold out on each club’s channels.
Barcelona do have some injury concerns ahead of this Champions League fixture. Pedri (muscle) and Ronald Araujo (hamstring) will be missing for the Blaugrana as they get their Champions League campaign underway. Meanwhile, Gavi, Yamal and Gundogan are all expected to start this fixture, while Lewandowski will continue to lead the line.
FC Barcelona: ter Stegen; Roberto, Kounde, Christensen, Balde; de Jong, Romeu, Gundogan; Gavi, Lewandowski, Yamal.
Royal Antwerp has a number of players missing for them. Just like their hosts on Tuesday night, Royal Antwerp also have some players injured currently. Toby Alderweireld, who is nursing a shoulder injury, could sit this game out. He’s joined in Antwerp’s physio room by Ortwin De Wolf, Sam Vines, Kobe Corbanie, Davino Verhulst and Björn Engels.
Royal Antwerp: Butez; Wijndal, Alderweireld, Coulibaly, Bataille; Vermeeren, Keita, Balikwisha, Kerk, Ekkelenkamp;Janssen.
The only previous meeting between Barcelona and Royal Antwerp came in the 1964/65 Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, with the Spanish champions winning 3-2 on aggregate in the second round (1-2 away and 2-0 home). With or without that, Barcelona are expected to beat this Belgian side. Additionally, they have won four of their last five Champions League home matches against sides from outside Europe’s big five leagues – dominant.
Royal Antwerp’s manager Mark van Bommel has won none of his nine Champions League games in charge (four draws and five losses) and that makes his side’s game in Barcelona more difficult. One of Europe’s most prolific strikers, Robert Lewandowski, has scored 91 Champions League goals since the 2011/12 season; only Cristiano Ronaldo (112) and Lionel Messi (92) have scored more than the Polish striker.
FC Barcelona 3-1 Royal Antwerp