Barcelona will travel to Netherlands this week, as they gear up to take on PSV Eindhoven in their penultimate group game of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League.
Barcelona will look to strengthen their hold at the top of Group B, when they face off against Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League at the Philips Stadion on Wednesday night.
Ernesto Valverde’s men have qualified to the knockout stages of the European competition, following their 1-1 draw against Inter Milan last time out, but are not assured the top spot in the group, given that the Nerazzurri are three points below them, with still two games left to be played.
Barcelona are without a win in three games in a row now and were lucky to escape with a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid this past weekend. And the Catalans will be intent on returning to winning ways with a commanding display on Wednesday night.
PSV Eindhoven, on the other hand, are rooted to the bottom of Group B, with just one point from four games so far. The reigning Dutch champions were beaten 2-1 by Tottenham Hotspur in Europe last time out, but have since won their two games in the Eredivisie, with the latest coming in the form of a 3-0 triumph over Heerenveen.
Mark van Bommel’s men may have won all their league games this term, but were absolutely hammered 4-0 by Barcelona in the reverse fixture. And the Eredivisie leaders will be keen on avoiding a similar fate, when they welcome the Catalans to their home this week.
Team News & Tactics
Midfielder Ryan Thomas, who is sidelined till the new year with an ACL injury, is the only absentee for PSV heading into the game against Barcelona. Van Bommel will set his team up in his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, with no major surprises in selection expected.
27-year-old Netherlands international Jeroen Zoet is a guaranteed starter between the sticks for the home team on Wednesday. No changes are expected in the full-back slots, with Denzel Dumfries and Angelino set to continue as the right-back and left-back respectively, while Daniel Schwaab is expected to pair up with summer arrival Nick Viergever in the centre.
Dutchman Jorrit Hendrix will be in charge of screening his defence from the middle of the park. He will be partnered by 21-year-old Pablo Rosario in the second pivot position, meaning Mexican midfielder Erick Gutierrez misses out.
Uruguayan international Gaston Pereiro, who has scored eight goals and set up five more this season, will shoulder the creative responsibilities for PSV, starting in the No.10 role. Flanking the playmaker on either side will be young attacking sensations Hirving Lozano and Steven Bergwijn.
Spearheading the attack for the Dutch outfit against the Spanish champions will be club captain and experienced campaigner Luuk de Jong.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Zoet; Dumfries, Schwaab, Viergever, Angelino; Hendrix, Rosario; Lozano, Pereiro, Bergwijn; de Jong
The Catalans have been hit with a spate of injuries ahead of the match with midfielder Rafinha Alcantara set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after picking up an ACL injury in the game against Atletico. Sergi Roberto has also been ruled out for Barcelona, along with Luis Suarez, Jasper Cillesen, Arthur Melo, Sergi Samper and Thomas Vermaelen.
However, they have been boosted by the return of midfielders Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic, both of whom missed the weekend’s La Liga encounter.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a definite starter under the woodwork for the visitors on Wednesday, while three of the four spots in defence are also locked down by Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba. Samuel Umtiti, who returned from an injury only this weekend, could be given a rest though, with Clement Lenglet featuring from the kick-off.
With Rakitic available again, he should walk right back into the starting XI for the midweek encounter. Arturo Vidal is expected to hold on to his spot in the middle, having made a rare start against Atletico, with Sergio Busquets set to make his 501st appearance for the club.
With Suarez ruled out, club captain Lionel Messi is expected to move into a central role in the attacking line for Barcelona. The fit-again Coutinho should find himself starting out on the left flank, while Ousmane Dembele, who was the Catalans’ saviour against Atleti, should start out on the right-hand side.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Rakitic, Busquets, Vidal; Dembele, Messi, Coutinho
- Barcelona are undefeated in 14 of their last 15 matches in the UEFA Champions League.
- PSV Eindhoven have conceded at least two goals in their previous four games in Europe’s premier footballing competition.
- The two teams have met on eight occasions previously in Europe, with Barcelona claiming three victories, compared to just one triumph for PSV.
- The Catalans, however, have won just two of their last nine away games in the Champions League.
Player to Watch
Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven)
The 23-year-old Mexican international is widely regarded as one of the finest young attackers in the game and is enjoying his best spell since arriving in Europe back in 2017. Lozano has already bagged 13 goals and set up six more in 21 appearances across all competitions for PSV, including a brace against Heerenveen this past weekend.
Currently in the form of his life, the former Pachuca attacker has been linked with a move to Barcelona recently. He will pose the biggest threat for the Catalans’ chances of a victory on Wednesday night.
PSV Eindhoven 1-2 Barcelona
PSV Eindhoven have made a perfect start to their Eredivisie campaign, winning all 13 of their league games, in which they have scored 46 times and shipped in only 5 goals. However, they have been unable to translate that form into the European stages are yet to pick up a single victory in the Champions League.
Barcelona, on the other hand, are unbeaten in Europe so far this term. However, they have failed to register a victory in their last three matches in all competitions and are missing a few key players like Luis Suarez, Arthur Melo and Sergi Roberto for the trip to Netherlands.
However, given how comfortably they dismantled the Dutch league leaders in the reverse fixture at Camp Nou earlier this term, the Catalans should have little difficulty to do so once again at the Philip Stadion on Wednesday night.