Barcelona aims to secure top spot in Champions League group H against Royal Antwerp

Following the loss to Girona, Barcelona look to bounce back in the Champions League and claim the top spot in their group.
FC Barcelona v Atletico Madrid - LaLiga EA Sports
FC Barcelona v Atletico Madrid - LaLiga EA Sports / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Having already qualified for the round of 16 of the Champions League, Barcelona now look to secure the top spot of group H when they face Royal Antwerp in Belgium.

While their last result in the tournament in the competition was a 2-1 over Porto, Barcelona are coming off a disappointing 4-2 defeat at the hands of Girona. A loss where, despite not playing poorly, they were played off the park at times by the surprising La Liga leaders.

Barcelona will want to bounce back from the loss which not only will secure top spot but take some of the pressure off Xavi Hernandez who has come under fire following the Girona loss.

"We have to be much more effective. We create a lot of chances to win games earlier," Xavi said during his pre-match press conference. "We have to do better in front of goal, but also improve our defensive robustness. We have to show consistency to achieve targets and trophies. We are on the way to creating a great Barça side."

Everyone at Barcelona know their latest performance is unacceptable and they need to step up if they want to compete in the Champions League. Defensively, the Catalans are conceding too many goals and the blame does not fall solely on an individual but on the collective as a whole.

"It is true that last year very few goals were conceded and it is difficult to match that," said Iñaki Peña.

While that may be true, Barcelona are not clinical enough at the moment, like Xavi said, to concede so many goals. The disconnect between the midfield and defense and a disjointed press allows too many clear goal scoring opportunities for the opponent. Girona took advantage of that early and often.

Initially, Barcelona released a squad list without some notable names like Ilkay Gundogan, Robert Lewandowski and Frenkie de Jong to name a few. In the end, everyone besides De Jong made the trip to Belgium.

Still, there is likely to be some rotation as Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix have both played a lot of minutes which could mean Alejandro Balde and Ferran Torres start on Wednesday. Those two may not be the only changes Xavi makes.

In addition to winning, Xavi will want to see an adequate response from the loss over the weekend. As has been mentioned ad nauseum, there is an economic reward for winning a Champions League game and Barcelona's financial situation does not afford the luxury of a throwaway game.

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They are only three points ahead of Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk. While those two sides play each other, if Barcelona lose and either of them win by more than three goals, they top the group on goal difference. Any way you look at it, there is only one objective for Barcelona and that is to win and convince.