Friday night sees not just Barcelona’s game of the season, but arguably the Champions League tie of the competition so far in 2019/20.
Two great former European champions going head-to-head in a one-off winner takes all scenario.
Bayern Munich are the heaviest of favourites against the Catalans and when was the last time you could legitimately claim that Barca were the underdogs in any game?
MORE: Champions League QF preview: Opportunity for Man City and PSG but can anyone stop Lewandowski?
The smart money will be on the Bavarians to progress, and given the turmoil at the Camp Nou, it’s possible they’ll sail through to the last four.
However, as we saw until the 90th minute in the Atalanta-PSG tie, football’s narrative doesn’t always follow the expected path.
With Lionel Messi in situ, Barca will always have more than a puncher’s chance, but it’s fair to say that the Argentinian – with just three goals in this season’s competition – has been some way short of his potent best.
It will need Bayern to have an off night and the Blaugranes to play their best match under Quique Setien for the latter to progress, but they do have one weapon to unleash which could make all the difference.
It might well be a risk to play Ousmane Dembele after eight months without a game, but the Frenchman has looked incredibly sharp in training, and appears ready to set foot on the pitch again.
His pace and natural gifts are sure to scare the lives out of Bayern’s back line and, positioned correctly, Dembele can stop the raiding of either of the Bavarian’s wing-backs, which greatly limits the output Hansi Flick’s side.
The majority of Bayern’s chances have been created from either flank, and they won’t want to have to plough through a congested midfield in order to try and release Robert Lewandowski.
For any number of reasons, Dembele must at least play a part. If not from the start, then certainly from no later than the hour mark, as long as the game isn’t already beyond Barca at that stage.