Group C is confirmed - Barcelona will finish in first and Borussia Monchengladbach will finish third and move into the Europa League, regardless of this matchday’s results (the tie-breaker between teams level on points is their head-to-head record). Despite that, Barca are desperate for some positive momentum, having won only one of their last five matches. At home in El Clasico over the weekend, they managed to go up 1-0 on league leaders Real Madrid before conceding a 90th minute goal to Sergio Ramos (he tends to do that). Now, they remain six points behind having failed to make up ground head-to-head and must hope for some serious slip-ups from Madrid. The first fixture against Gladbach resulted in a 2-1 win for Barcelona, and while the result in this match may not have any impact on paper, it could help stifle further souring at Nou Camp. For neutrals, it’s a chance to see an exciting Bundesliga midfield featuring Thorgan Hazard, Lars Stindl, and Fabian Johnson, despite the side sitting in 13th in Germany. A match without major implications, but any excuse to watch Barcelona (sans Neymar and Ivan Rakitic, who are suspended) is a good one.
With the trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar up front, Barcelona are automatic contenders for the Champions League. Last season, they managed a domestic double, but lost 3-2 on aggregate in the quarterfinals to eventual runners-up Atletico Madrid. Their starting eleven will be largely the same, bolstered by centerback Samuel Umtiti, who starred for France at the Euros and a few other up-and-comers to fill out the squad. After satiating their appetite for domestic silverware and watching two league rivals face off in last year’s final, expect La Blaugrana to make winning the Champions League priority number one. Plus, after a season of playing in sacrilegious horizontal stripes, they’re back to their traditional vertical.
Gladbach made easy work of their Champions League play-off, defeating Swiss side Young Boys 9-2 on aggregate, after qualifying by finishing 4th in the Bundesliga. They lost Granit Xhaka to Arsenal, who would have been handy against Barcelona and Man City, but maintain their attacking trio of Brazilian forward Raffael, Lars Stindl and American Fabian Johnson. They’re a solid, dangerous side, but it would be a definite surprise for them to make it out of this incredibly tough group. That doesn’t mean Gladbach shouldn’t be ignored - they make for great viewing and won’t go out easily.
Averages nearly a goal per game for Blaugrana.
Scored 40 goals in 35 appearances last season on his way to winning the European Golden Shoe.
Scored 8 goals last season, two of which came in the Champions League against Juventus and Sevilla.
Started in goal for all four of Switzerland's Euro 2016 matches, including a clean sheet against France.