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Five of the best players to play for Barcelona and Bayern Munich

Barcelona meet Bayern Munich in the Champions League this evening, in a clash between two of European football’s superpowers.

The two sides have shared 11 Champions League titles between them 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

Mark Hughes enjoyed stints at Barcelona and Bayern Munich in between two spells at Manchester United. He moved to Spain in a £2m deal in 1986, where he signed 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 as his bullish approach failed to win plaudits. The Welshman spent a single season in Catalonia that delivered just four league goals and saw him swiftly fall out of favour.

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He moved to Bayern Munich on loan in a bid to secure more regular opportunities and enjoyed a fruitful spell in Germany, scoring on his debut for the Bavarians.

Hughes won 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. He later returned to Manchester United and won six major honours during his second spell at Old Trafford.

Mark van Bommel

The combative midfielder forged a reputation as a ferocious competitor during a trophy-laden spell in his native Netherlands with PSV Eindhoven, where he was 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.

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. After overcoming a difficult debut season for the Bavarian side he became an increasingly influential figure and became 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. He also formed part of the team that reached the 2010 Champions League final under Louis van Gaal.

Thiago Alcantara

Thiago Alcantara came through the famed La Masia youth system at Barcelona and made 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, before a move 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, as he won 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 improved the performances of those around him, finding passes with laser-like precision.

Arturo Vidal

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 as the Catalans sought 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.

Robert Lewandowski

All eyes will be on Robert Lewandowski this evening, as the forward makes his first return to Bayern Munich in Barcelona colours.

Lewandowski called time on a decorated career with Bayern in 2022, after eight seasons of goals, silverware and unforgettable moments.

The Poland international emerged as one of Europe’s most talented forwards at Borussia Dortmund, before signing for divisional rivals Bayern on a free transfer in 2014. In Bavaria he became one of the greatest goalscorers of all time, as he scored 344 goals in 375 appearances for the Bundesliga’s dominant force.

Only Gerd Muller has ever scored more goals than Lewandowski in both the Bundesliga and for Bayern, with the forward ending as Germany’s leading scorer in a joint-record seven seasons.

His finest league season came in 2020/21, as Lewandowski struck an astonishing 41 goals in just 29 league appearances, breaking Muller’s single season record that had stood since for almost five decades.

After winning eight league titles and the Champions League at Bayern, he departed this summer in search of a new challenge.

The two-time European Golden Shoe winner has been an instant hit at Barcelona, where he leads the La Liga goal charts and scored a hat-trick on his Champions League debut for the club.

Read – Remembering the Bayern XI that achieved Champions League redemption at Wembley

Read Also – Reliving Rivaldo’s most iconic moments for Barcelona

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