Barca travel to Germany, but without Messi or starting center back Samuel Umtiti. Even though Gladbach were easily brushed aside by Man City in their opener, that match was more of an outlier than a true indication of this side’s quality. Especially at the lively Borussia-Park, Gladbach will test the Catalan side. Borussia attack with width and quick passing - Lars Stindl and Thorgan Hazard (two years younger than his brother, Eden) driving through the center of the pitch while their wingers move outside for their wingbacks, including American Fabian Johnson, to cut inside. The real question will be in their defense, which had no answer for City’s counters in their 4-0 defeat. Iniesta, Neymar, Turan and Suarez will give the Bundesliga side plenty to think about, despite Messi’s absence. With that in mind, Barca are still favorites, but a home win for Borussia would make this group a melee.
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.
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.
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.