Following several weeks in the shelf with a calf strain injury, Lionel Messi will be a part of FC Barcelona’s team for their UEFA Champions League clash vs. Borussia Dortmund.
The Catalans are one of the frontrunners to win the continental trophy this season and are obliged to be at their best against one of the most inspired teams in Europe right now.
However, former World Cup winner Olaf Thon claims Barcelona are an average team nowadays and that Dortmund would be the ‘clear favorite’ to knock them out of the UCL:
“Dortmund have a massive task right at the start (of their Champions League season), but I’d say they’re still clear favorites against Barcelona. The Spaniards won 5-2 against Valencia at the weekend – without Lionel Messi – but I think they are average at the moment. Barcelona are still trying to find their identity,” Thon wrote in a column for Kicker.
Moreover, the former champion wen ton to laud Lucien Favre’s team by stating they’ll have the upper hand vs. Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig in this year’s title run after falling short of their goal last season:
“Starting their Champions League season at home is a great opportunity, to begin with a bang – and to get more momentum going for the title fight with Bayern (Munich) and RB Leipzig. I think it’s great and I hope those teams continue fighting for the top spot for very long stretches of the season. Mats Hummels, whose transfer to Bayern’s biggest title rivals has done them no favors, gives BVB’s defense stability that they were lacking before. I think it’s refreshing (that Liepzig are challenging). It’s clear that if any team has what it takes to annoy Bayern and Dortmund – it’s not Gladbach, it’s not Leverkusen, not Frankfurt or Wolfsburg – it’s Leipzig. The only thing is, I feel that Leipzig lack a really outstanding defensive midfielder. And in that sense, I think Dortmund and Bayern are better positioned (to win the Bundesliga),” he concluded.
As for Barcelona, Antoine Griezmann will be looking forward to making his UCL debut with the Blaugranas, as he’ll try to finally win the trophy he was never able to during his days at Atletico de Madrid.