Antwerp vs Barcelona
Bosuilstadion is the venue as Antwerp and Barcelona go head-to-head in a lopsided Champions League encounter.
Antwerp’s first-ever Champions League group stage campaign has been an unmitigated disaster. They’ve lost all five Group H contests via a combined score of 15-3, waving goodbye to their hopes of securing a European spring ahead of the final round. An unwanted piece of history looms as Mark van Bommel’s men are at grave risk of becoming only the sixth club to lose their first six Champions League matches. On the upside, since a narrow 1-0 loss at Shakhtar Donetsk in their last European outing, the Belgian champions have won three consecutive domestic matches by an aggregate score of 9-3. However, a thumping 5-0 defeat in the reverse fixture extended Antwerp’s long-standing form woes against Spanish clubs, marking their sixth loss in seven encounters (W1).
In the meantime, Barcelona’s faltering La Liga title defense took another hit at the weekend as surprise package Girona thrashed Xavi Hernandez’s side 4-2 at Estadio Olimpico. Now seven points adrift of the top, the ‘Blaugrana’ may see the upcoming European duties as a welcoming distraction, given their near-perfect Group H record (W4, L1). The Catalan giants have already qualified for the knockout stages, but they still need at least a point here to progress as group winners, regardless of the outcome of Shakhtar’s game against Porto. But Barcelona’s recent form on their travels paints a bleak picture, with Xavi’s team only winning twice in their last six away games across all competitions (D3, L1). Their traveling record in the Champions League looks even worse of late, with four defeats on their six most recent trips (W2).