Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann has warned that Barcelona still pose a major threat to his side's Champions League prospects, even without the departed Lionel Messi, ahead of the pair's clash on Tuesday.
The Bavarian giants and the Catalan heavyweights will kick off their European campaigns in a mouthwatering Group E encounter at Camp Nou this week, in arguably the pick of the first round of fixtures.
Ronald Koeman's side are entering continental competition for the first time without former captain Messi in over a decade-and-a-half - but regardless of the Argentine's absence, Nagelsmann feels they remain stern opposition.
What has been said?
"They've no longer got someone as extravagant as Messi, but they have other players who can make a difference," the 39-year-old told his pre-match press conference. "We are prepared for everything.
"I'm not of the opinion that they are a lot worse off now. [Whether we are] favourites or not favourites is always more of a media topic. Two world clubs are meeting.
"On the one hand, the form on the day will decide, but on the other hand, [there is] motivation - and that one will be extremely high with us."
Bayern out to regain European favour
Having defeated Paris Saint-Germain just over a year ago in a Champions League final postponed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bundesliga champions were unable to hold onto their crown last term, eliminated in the quarter-finals by the Ligue 1 outfit.
They will be out to restore their place atop the continental pyramid this year, however, looking to dethrone current holders Chelsea and return the trophy to German soil.
Even without Messi - now at PSG himself and preparing to spearhead their latest bid for the crown - Barcelona likely represent their toughest test early on, with Benfica and Dynamo Kyiv making up the rest of Group E.