Barcelona meet Bayern Munich in a fascinating start to the Champions League this evening, a clash between two of European football’s superpowers and two sides who are often contenders for club football’s biggest prize.
The two sides have shared ten Champions League titles between them throughout their illustrious histories and some of football’s finest have represented the sporting giants throughout the years.
A further select few have been fortunate enough to represent both clubs, and we’ve decided to profile some of the best players to have starred in both Barcelona and Bavaria.
Here are five of the best players to have played for Barcelona and Bayern Munich:
Mark Hughes enjoyed stints at Barcelona and Bayern Munich in between two spells at Manchester United, firstly moving to Spain in a £2m deal in 1986 – signing alongside Gary Lineker as Terry Venables sought to add some British talent to a squad that had finished as runners-up in both La Liga and the European Cup.
Hughes, however, struggled to make an impact with his bullish approach failing to win plaudits, the Welshman failing to settle in Catalonia during a single season that delivered just four league goals and saw him swiftly fall out of favour.
He moved to Bayern Munich on loan in a bid to secure more regular opportunities and enjoyed a much more fruitful spell in Germany, scoring on his debut for the Bavarians and winning respect for memorably playing two competitive fixtures in the same day, featuring for Wales in a European Championship qualifier against Czechoslovakia before flying across the border to appear as a substitute for Bayern in a cup clash against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Hughes scored six goals in 18 appearances for Bayern – including a hat-trick against Bochum – and established himself as a favourite amongst the club’s supporters, later returning to Manchester United and winning six major honours during his second spell at Old Trafford.
Mark van Bommel
The combative midfielder had forged a reputation as a ferocious competitor during a trophy-laden spell in his native Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven, twice named as Dutch Footballer of the Year after helping PSV to four league titles and the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Frank Rijkaard had identified the domineering Van Bommel as a player who could add leadership to his developing Barcelona side and his free transfer acquisition was seen as a coup, but despite helping the Spanish side to La Liga and Champions League success in his debut season, competition for places from the likes of Thiago Motta saw the Dutchman depart in search of guaranteed game time.
Bayern Munich came calling and Van Bommel headed to Germany in search of a new challenge, overcoming a difficult debut season for the Bavarian side to become an increasingly influential figure, becoming Bayern’s first ever non-German captain following the retirement of Oliver Kahn.
His four seasons with the club saw Van Bommel make 183 appearances in all competitions, winning domestic doubles in 2008 and 2010, alongside reaching the final of the Champions League under Louis van Gaal.
Thiago Alcantara came through the famed La Masia youth system at Barcelona, making his first-team debut for the club as a teenager before racking up over a century of appearances for the Catalan side.
His spell with the Spanish giants saw success come in the form of two league titles and the Champions League amongst a host of honours, before heading to Bayern Munich in 2013 in search of increased status after struggling to command an automatic place in a talented midfield at the Camp Nou.
Thiago’s move to Germany coincided with an era of unprecedented domestic dominance for Bayern, winning seven consecutive Bundesliga titles and four German Cups during his time in Bavaria.
The Spain international – born in Italy and the son of a Brazilian World Cup winner – helped Bayern to a historic treble-winning season after lifting the Champions League during the 2019/20 campaign, before embarking on a new challenge with Liverpool.
His time with Bayern saw Thiago establish himself as one of the best midfielders of his generation, a unique talent who improves the performances of those around him, finding passes with laser-like precision.
Arturo Vidal has racked up major honours at a host of Europe’s leading clubs, winning nine league titles across spells in Italy, Germany and Spain.
The Chile international signed for Bayern following a successful spell with Juventus, where he quickly established himself as a key figure in the club’s winning-machine, winning three consecutive Bundesliga titles and twice being named in the division’s Team of the Season.
Vidal’s drive and unrelenting will-to-win made him a popular figure during his time in German football, a complete midfield talent whose running power enabled him to influence proceedings at both ends of the pitch.
After three seasons with Bayern he signed for Barcelona in 2018, the Catalans seeking to add some steel to a midfield often famed for its intricate passing play.
Vidal helped the side to La Liga title success during the 2018/19 season and made 124 appearances in all competitions before joining Inter Milan in 2020.
Philippe Coutinho’s career may be at a crossroads at present but there is no disputing the Brazilian’s talent, Barcelona paying a club-record fee to sign the star from Liverpool in 2018.
Coutinho had established himself as one of the Premier League’s leading lights during five seasons on Merseyside and seemed a perfect fit for Barcelona’s famed style of play, but the dream move to Catalonia has largely proven a nightmare for the 29-year-old who has struggled to find his role at the Camp Nou.
Despite winning two league titles, Coutinho was deemed surplus to requirements and joined Bayern Munich on a season-long loan deal for the 2019/20 campaign.
His season in Germany saw him score 11 goals in all competitions as Bayern won a treble, including scoring twice as the Bundesliga giants eliminated parent club Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Champions League in emphatic fashion.
His performances were not enough to convince Bayern to sign him on a permanent basis however, with Coutinho currently bidding to work his way into Barcelona’s plans after an injury-hit 2020/21 season.
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The post Five of the best players to play for Barcelona and Bayern Munich first appeared on The Football Faithful.
Author: Harry Diamond