Monday, September 16, 2019

The Spanish champions may well see Lionel Messi appear for the first time this term, but they are still underdogs, according to the World Cup winner

Former Bundesliga great Olaf Thon has stated that Barcelona are currently "average" and that Borussia Dortmund are clear favourites to overcome the Blaugrana in the upcoming Champions League clash at Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night.

And while Lionel Messi is yet to make a competitive appearance for the Blaugrana this season and could well be involved in North Rhine-Westphalia, 1990 World Cup winner Thon believes the home side will emerge victorious in midweek.

“Dortmund have a massive task right at the start [of their Champions League season], but I'd say they're still clear favourites against Barcelona,” the 53-year-old wrote in a column for Kicker.

“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.

“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.”

With Bayern having dominated the German top-flight for quite some time now, Thon is pleased to see that Dortmund and Leipzig have real aspirations of taking the Bavarians down a peg or two.

“I think it's great and I hope those teams continue fighting for the top spot for very long stretches of the season,” he said.

“Mats Hummels, whose transfer to Bayern's biggest title rivals has done them no favours, gives BVB's defence a 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].”


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