Barcelona take on the visitors Antwerp in the round 1 match of UEFA Champions League group stage. The match will be played on Tuesday, September 19th at
Barcelona simply must improve compared to their previous performances in European competitions. The Blaugrana started under Xavi with an unpleasant record. Twice in a row, with their legendary player in the coaching role, they finished third in the UEFA Champions League group stage, failing to advance to the playoffs (by the way, in the Europa League afterward, Barcelona didn't show anything significant). However, the situation finally changed in 2023. First, the more than a club won the long-awaited title, albeit in the format of the Super Cup, with a victory over Real Madrid. And, most importantly, they managed to beat their eternal rival from Madrid in La Liga. Furthermore, they strengthened their squad effectively during the summer by signing Gundogan, Martinez, Cancelo, and Joao Felix. Although there is regret over the departure of Dembele or Fati.
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Antwerp doesn't often play at such a level. The Great Old is a Belgian football grand. However, for many decades, this multiple champion remained even outside the country's second division. Only recently did they manage to return, and rather quickly after that, in 2020, they even won the country's cup. Gradually, the club solidified itself as contenders for a place on the European stage, and they were not without hope there. But the real breakthrough came thanks to a Dutch invasion. First, the controversial Marc Overmars emerged. As the sporting director, he invited a fellow countryman, Van Bommel, who with his new charges achieved the golden double. Moreover, after the summer break, they also added the Belgian Super Cup to their accomplishments. In the qualification, they managed to handle AEK, beating the Greeks in both matches, 1-0 at home and 2-1 away.
This will be the Cules' first time hosting this guest. However, remember that Van Bommel played in the Blaugrana kit, albeit for just one season. The Blaugrana are undoubtedly stronger, and noticeably so. We recommend betting that Xavi's team can win their match with a -2.0 goals handicap.
Prediction for the match: Barcelona to win with -2.0 handicap.