Antwerp has one last chance to score its first points in the Champions League, by bidding farewell to its guest Barcelona, which needs a draw in Belgium to secure first place in Group H.
The Belgian side began their first Champions League campaign with a 5-0 defeat in Barcelona, and were also beaten in their next four matches, by a total of three goals to 15, the most of any team after the fifth day.
On the other hand, Barcelona won four of its five matches to reach the round of 16 for the first time in three seasons. They are three points ahead of Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk, and will ensure they finish first in their group for a record 19th time if they draw.
The team’s coaches, Mark van Bommel and Xavi Hernandez, were part of the team that won Barcelona’s second European Champions Cup in the 2005/06 edition, and also lifted the league title in the same season.
In their first Champions League appearance, Antwerp struggled against Barcelona on day one. The hosts took a 3-0 lead before the end of the quarter, thanks to goals from Joao Felix (11 minutes), Robert Lewandowski (19 minutes) and an own goal by Gilly Bataille (22 minutes). Goals from Gavi (54′) and Joao Felix (66′) in the second half allowed Barcelona to achieve their biggest win in the Champions League since a 6-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the second leg of the round of 16 of the edition. 2016/17.
This was the first meeting between the two teams in UEFA competition, although they had already met in the second round of the Fairs Cup in the 1965/66 season, when Barcelona overturned a 2-1 deficit in the first leg in Belgium with a 2-0 score in the Fairs Cup. . Camp Nou.
Balance with Spanish teams: V0 E0 D3 GF1 GC13
Balance at home against Spanish teams: W0 D0 D1
The only time Antwerp had faced Spanish opposition in the European Cup before this season was in the first-round match of the 1957-58 season, when Real Madrid won 2-1 in Dueren. Alfredo Di Stefano scored both goals before Hector Real scored a hat-trick in the first half, sealing the second leg with a 6-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Antwerp will become Belgian champions for the fifth time, and first since 1957, in the 2022/23 season. Toby Alderweireld’s goal in the 94th minute on the final day of the season secured a 2-2 draw with Genk to win the title.
Van Bommel’s team also lifted the Belgian Cup for the second time in four seasons, completing the first domestic “double”.
Antwerp then beat AEK Athens 1–0 at home (despite playing almost half the match with ten men due to Gilly Bataille’s 50th-minute sending off) and 1–2 away to advance to the Champions League group stage. This is their first participation in the European Cup in 66 years.
After opening with a huge defeat in Barcelona (5-0), Antwerp lost at home to Shakhtar (2-3), after leading 2-0, then fell away from home (2-0) and at home (1-4) to Porto. Before losing again away from home to Shakhtar (1-0) in the fifth round.
The highlight of the Belgian national team’s European season was their runner-up finish in the 1992/93 European Cup Winners’ Cup, when they lost 3-1 to Parma at Wembley. They remain the last Belgian team to reach the final of a UEFA competition.
This is the fifth successive European campaign for Antwerp, whose participation in the 2019/20 Europa League ended a 25-year absence from continental competition.
Last season, the Belgian team participated in the European League qualifiers, where it defeated Drita from Kosovo 2-0 on aggregate in the second qualifying round, and defeated Norwegian Lillestrom 5-1 in the next round, falling to the next round. It defeated Istanbul Basaksehir on aggregate 4-2 (1-1 away, 3-1 at home).
Before the first round, Antwerp had only suffered one defeat in their previous ten European matches (six wins and three draws). They now have five straight defeats, their longest European losing streak, since the club’s previous record was four.
Antwerp’s European home record is 16 wins, seven draws and 13 losses. They have won four and lost six of their last 11 games.
Balance against Belgian teams: W12 E1 D3 GF29 GC12
Balance away from home against Belgian teams: W4 E0 L3
The first day’s match was Barcelona’s first against a Belgian team since October 2002, when it beat Brugge 1-0 in the first group stage of the Champions League. With the win over Antwerp, they are now five in six matches against Belgian clubs.
Barcelona’s three defeats came against Belgian opponents, the last two at Anderlecht in the second round of the European Cup Winners’ Cup: 3-0 in 1978/79 and 2-0 in 1989/90. However, they have won three of their last four matches in Belgium.
Barcelona also beat Standard Liege 2-1 in the 1982 European Cup Winners’ Cup final, which was held at Camp Nou, which is considered a neutral stadium.
This is Barcelona’s 28th season in the Champions League group stage, a record in the competition which it shares with Real Madrid. He has featured in every season since 2003/04, and after concluding his career this season, he reached the playoffs for the 23rd time.
Barcelona won the European Cup twice at Wembley Stadium, the scene of the final match of the season. In 1992, they beat Sampdoria 1-0 after extra time to win the title for the first time, and they also defeated Manchester United 3-1 in 2011.
The five-time European champions reached the quarter-finals or better in every season between 2007/08 and 2019/20, winning the title in 2009, 2011 and 2015, but failed to qualify for the last 16 in each of the last two seasons. .
Xavi’s side finished third in their group for the second successive season in 2022/23, winning just two of their six matches (both against Viktoria Plzeň) and losing three times, trailing runners-up Bayern Munich and Inter Milan. Barcelona did not score in three of its matches in Group Three.
Barcelona’s participation in the last Europa League lasted only once: Manchester United beat them 4-3 on aggregate (2-2 at home, 2-1 away) in the knockout round.
The Spanish team began the current season by defeating its guest Antwerp (5-0), then defeated Porto (0-1), then defeated Shakhtar over its guest (2-1) on the third day. Their momentum stalled after a 1-0 defeat to the Ukrainian club, but qualification was secured with a 2-1 win at home to Porto in the fifth round.
Barcelona have won just 14 of their last 33 away matches in European competition (nine draws and ten defeats), although they were unbeaten in eight (five wins and three draws) before losing to Benfica on the second day of 2021/22. Since then, the team has recorded five wins, one draw and five losses away from home.
Barcelona achieved its 27th league title, and its first in four seasons, in the 2022/23 season, ten points behind Real Madrid at the top of the standings.
Van Bommel played 24 league matches and nine Champions League matches for Barcelona in the 2005/06 season.
Antwerp sporting director Marc Overmars played with Barcelona between 2000 and 2004, scoring 19 goals in 141 matches in all competitions.
Van Bommel and Xavi met in the 2010 World Cup final, when Spain beat the Netherlands 1-0 at the end of extra time.
Jurgen Ekelenkamp and Frenkie de Jong were teammates at Ajax between 2016 and 2019, and reached the Champions League semi-finals in 2018/19.
Alderweireld was part of the Tottenham squad that lost 2-4 at home to Barcelona and tied 1-1 away from home in the group stage of the 2018/19 Champions League.
Played in Spain:
Toby Alderweireld (Atletico Madrid 2013/14)
Vincent Janssen, Owen Findal and Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands)
Fermin Lopez started Spain’s 1-1 draw against Belgium in a 2025 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifier in Heverlee on 21 November.
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