Barcelona - Royal Antwerp predictions and free betting tips [19/09/2023]
On Tuesday, Barcelona, in the first round of the Champions League group stage, will host Antwerp at the Camp Nou stadium.
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Cancelo, Kounde, Christensen, Balde; Gavi, De Jong, Gundogan; Yamal, Lewandowski, Felix.
Antwerp: Butez; Bataille, Van den Bosch, Coulibaly, De Laet; Keita, Ekkelenkamp, Vermeeren; Balikwisha, Janssen, Muja.
Barcelona ranks second in La Liga, with the club garnering 13 points in 5 matches and, along with their age-old rivals Real Madrid, aims to create a gap from the nearest competitors. Managed by Xavi, who uses a 4-4-2 lineup, they overcame the resistance of Betis last round with a 5:0 victory. The management and fans are dreaming of finally ending their series of failures in the European cups. Despite another substantial transfer campaign, Xavi aims for the playoffs, yet he is not confident in the power of his players. New signings are gradually getting acquainted with the squad. Cancelo showed good form against Betis. Lewandowski also began to score goals, whose crisis had been widely publicised in the Spanish media. Pedro has not recovered in time for the Champions League start, and the medical staff is not rushing his recovery process. The strong performances by Torres and Jamal, who have both lead Barcelona at the start of this season, should be noted.
Playing as the number one team in Belgium is a role that Antwerp has grown accustomed to. This factor might pose certain problems when they face the Spanish Champions. In the domestic league, the team currently holds the 5th position, with 11 points obtained in 6 matches. In the previous round, they faced Westerlo and earned an away win with a 3:0 scoreline. Marco van Bommel, the head coach, used a 4-3-3 formation. His visit to Barcelona is notable - he was part of the Catalan club's Champions League-winning team in his playing days. Antwerp, debuting in the continent's main cup tournament, managed to make headlines with an odd mishap - the American Defender, Vins, was left out of the squad in error. The team aims to play the game beautifully through combination play, with long-ball play being sparingly used.
The teams last met in the distant year of 1965, where they exchanged victories. Back then, Barcelona went ahead on the advantage of the away goal rule.
Barcelona vs Antwerp Match Prediction
Antwerp is initially looked upon as the group's underdog, with many forecasting them to finish last in the quartet. However, I hold a different view - the team is capable of posing problems to any opponent. Let's not forget that Barcelona has failed to advance from the group stages in the Champions League for two consecutive seasons now. I recommend playing the plus handicap for Antwerp.
Total Goals Prediction
The bookmakers are confident in a crushing victory by Barcelona, with low odds put on a commanding performance even before the routing of Betis in the national league. I'm not convinced that Barcelona will score many goals in the European cups, even when facing a debutant.