Barcelona vs Bayern Munich | Friday 14th August 2020, 20:00 | BT Sport
You couldn’t get a more tantalising offering for Friday night football than a meeting between two former Champions League winners and colossus of the European scene.
FC Barcelona last won this trophy back in 2015 when they defeated Juventus in Berlin. Bayern Munich were winners most recently in 2013 when they beat Borussia Dortmund. I was actually quite surprised that it was the sole win for them in the last 19 years.
Bayern always seem to be there or thereabouts in this competition but many are fancying them to go all the way and win it this time around. It’s totally understandable too, they’ve been phenomenal under Hansi Flick, winning every single game since 16th February and doing so in traditionally ruthless fashion. It’s very hard to see them drawing, never mind losing in their current guise and the odds-against offering will be seeing a lot of action no doubt.
If Bayern have been convincing since Flick came in, Barcelona have been far from that since Quique Setien stepped into the hotseat. Setien is well known as being a disciple of former Barca legend Johan Cruyff and the style he liked to approach the game in and although results have been decent enough it does seem like they are keeping possession for possessions sake.
It’s therefore no surprise that games involving the Blaugrana have seen a dearth of goalmouth action on the whole since Setien arrived. They want to control games and are happy to be patient, we’ve seen a lower amount of shots and corners for Barca because they don’t really try get in behind teams, more often than not they’re up against a deep blocks but it would be out of the ordinary for Bayern to set up in such a fashion.
FC Hollywood like to press teams and win the ball back in their attacking half, suffocating teams and to great success. It will be very interesting to see if they do that again here given how well Barca resisted the press and created angles when more space was given to them further up the pitch when they defeated Napoli at the Nou Camp last time out.
Bayern certainly have the counter attacking potential with Serge Gnabry, Ivan Perisic, Alphonso Davies and Kingsley Coman. Maybe they’d be best off switching up their usual tactic, especially if they take the lead.
Incredibly, the last time Barcelona lost a home match in this competition was way back in 2013, bet you can't guess who that was against…. I can vividly remember watching that tie which ended 7-0 on aggregate to the Bavarians who won 3-0 on the night. I see similarities with that Jupp Heynckes Bayern team to this current one with the pace and intensity they play at. It will be difficult to stop.
The betting angles
There are a few angles of interest in this one.
Firstly, I can’t resist the 21/20 (Genting) on Bayern to win in 90 minutes. They are much more dangerous in my opinion and are so accustomed to winning it could give them a psychological edge.
On the data Bayern have been extremely impressive too and have deserved their winning run, it’s no fluke. Bayern racked up over 6 Expected Goals (xG) in their two legs with Chelsea which is superb. Their eye-watering 3.3 xG for in this Champions League campaign is frightening and given how lackadaisical Barca have been going forward it's tough to see anything else.
The Spaniards lost the xG battle in that game against Napoli at home and are so reliant on Lionel Messi. I suppose if you are going to rely on anyone it would be him but if they do press high they will nullify his imminent danger. That’s why I think Setien could be tempted to bring Ansu Fati in to break the offside trap and use his pace to get in behind the visitors' defence.
Barca aren’t the best away from home in Europe either and the emission of home comforts will be a blow for sure. I think if Bayern take the lead then they could rack up a few, it’s in their nature.
I’ll therefore have a smaller play on Bayern with a -2 start on the Asian Handicap at 11/2 (Unibet). Backing this would see us take full profit if Bayern win by three goals or more but our stakes are returned if they win by exactly two. I like that.
Next, I’ll head to the player props market and the even-money offering on Barca defender Clement Lenglet to have two or more tackles (Pokerstars). He will be up against a very dangerous attacking unit and will no doubt be busy.
Centre-halves are unlikely to fall foul of the five substitute rule as well which is a bonus for these types of bets as they should get the full 90. The Frenchman has beaten this line in 16/28 La Liga games so I’m surprised you can get even-money especially considering their opponents and the thought of Serge Gnabry floating inside.
My final play will be to get against a barrage of shots on-target. Marathon go odds-against on Under 9.5 Shots-On-Target in the 90 minutes and that price holds appeal. I think the first half especially will be quite tight and possibly uneventful if recent Barca games are to go by. I’d expect a lot of possession football and with Barca rarely shooting and Bayern being ultra-clinical when they do.
We backed the same bet in the last Barcelona game and despite four goals being scored only seven were on target. It’s now four of the last five Barcelona games where this line has failed to be beaten. It’s not so much the case for Bayern, naturally, but the Bundesliga is a far more expansive league and few teams play with the patience that Barca do.
Throw in the magnitude of the game and it could be a relatively stand off-ish fixture.