Barcelona, the reigning La Liga champions, started their title defense with a whimper but have since roared to life, securing four consecutive victories that have catapulted them to the top of the league table. Under Xavi’s guidance, they recently thrashed Real Betis 5-0, featuring standout performances from Joao Felix, Joao Cancelo, Robert Lewandowski, Ferran Torres, and Raphinha.
While their domestic form has been impressive, Barcelona has struggled in recent Champions League campaigns, failing to advance past the group stage in their last two attempts. They aim to rectify this starting with Tuesday’s match.
Their opponents, Antwerp, are making their debut in the Champions League group stage, representing a significant milestone for the Belgian club. They earned this opportunity by winning their first Belgian First Division title since 1957 and triumphing in the playoff round against AEK Athens.
Mark van Bommel’s side enters the game on the back of a 3-0 league victory over Westerlo, although they currently sit fifth in their domestic division, trailing the leaders Anderlecht.
Antwerp’s rapid ascent from last season’s Europa Conference League playoff defeat to the Champions League group stage demonstrates their progress. Tuesday’s match promises to be historic for the club and its supporters, while Barcelona aims to reestablish itself as a European force to be reckoned with.