Barcelona and Bayern Munich will provide the first powerhouse meeting in this season’s Champions League when they square off at the Camp Nou on Tuesday night.
There are a number of storylines hanging over this game, with this being a repeat of Bayern’s 8-2 demolition of 2020 as well as Barcelona’s first Champions League game without Lionel Messi in the side.
Against a top opponent and with a selection crisis up front, Ronaldo Koeman may be swayed to switch to a back three of Eric Garcia, Gerard Pique and Ronaldo Araujo in front of Marc-Andre ter Stegen in goal.
Sergi Roberto will play on the right of defence with Sergino Dest ruled out, while Jordi Alba will assume his usual place on the left.
Pedri was granted a rest after Barca’s second game of the season after a ludicrous run of games that included both Euro 2020 and the Olympics in Tokyo, but the Spaniard should return to the midfield trio alongside Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong.
Not only will the Blaugrana be Messi-less, but Antoine Griezmann has left for Atletico Madrid while Martin Braithwaite, Sergio Aguero, Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati are all injured.
That is why Koeman could opt for the different system with one less attacker. Luuk de Jong is in line for his Barca debut alongside compatriot Memphis Depay after signing on deadline day from Sevilla.
Bayern Munich are just about the total opposite, with a near-full complement available to Julian Nagelsmann for this clash.
Manuel Neuer will start in goal with Alphonso Davies and Benjamin Pavard in the full-back positions, though Niklas Sule could come in at centre-back alongside Dayot Upamecano in Lucas Hernandez’s stead.
Marcel Sabitzer came off the bench in Bayern’s 4-1 win over former side RB Leipzig at the weekend and could join Joshua Kimmich in midfield from the start in Spain, replacing Leon Goretzka.
Jamal Musiala was outstanding in the second half of that win, scoring a goal and assisting another within just seven minutes of his substitution.
That could earn him a start over Serge Gnabry, with Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane completing the supporting cast for Robert Lewandowski up front.
Both sides will be out to get a good start in Europe after disappointing campaigns by their own standards last time out, with an early opportunity to lay down a marker against the other.