UCL SF First-Leg Preview: Barcelona vs Bayern Munich – Old Friends Meet Again

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As Bayern Munich travel to Camp Nou to face Barcelona on Wednesday evening for a clash of the two biggest clubs in world football. Is it also the return of Pep Guardiola to the club he supported as a boy, played for and then coached as a man, and still has a big place in his heart.

Bayern go to Barcelona in good spirits, despite losing 2‐0 at Bayer Leverkusen on the weekend. The game meant nothing for the Bavarian side as the Bundesliga title is already wrapped up and all their focus is on this fixture.

Barca, meanwhile, kept up their hunt for a treble – beating a poor Cordoba side 8‐0, and maintaining their slim lead over arch‐rivals Real Madrid at the top of the table. They are in irresistible form just now and have a front three that are hungry to send Guardiola and his side tumbling out of the competition.

Barcelona will be looking to fare better this time around as the 2013 edition of the squad was left humbled and humiliated at this same stage of the competition; losing 7‐0 on aggregate. That was at the hands of Jupp Heynckes’ treble‐winning Bayern – one that Guardiola will continue to try and emulate.

 

Key Battle

Guardiola vs Luis Enrique: The tactical battle will be one to relish as both sides have similar styles but with slight variations. Guardiola will keep Barca guessing with regards to his shape and personnel on the night, but it remains to be seen what Luis Enrique will do. He may go with the standard 4‐3‐3, but he may also bring in an extra defensive midfielder to try and negate Bayern’s strength in the middle of the park. Emotion factors into this, as well, with Guardiola and Thiago Alcantara going back to the Camp Nou for the first time since departing. Tactics plus sentimentality make this tie an extremely fascinating one.

 

Predicted line‐ups

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Dani Alves, Mascherano, Pique, Jordi Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Neymar, Messi, Suarez.

Bayern Munich: Neuer; Rafinha, Benatia, Boateng, Alaba; Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Thiago; Gotze, Lewandowski, Ribery.

 

Prediction

A magnificent footballing spectacle! Arjen Robben’s absence will be a huge blow to the German side, but they will fancy their chances of grabbing an away goal. Barca’s forwards are on fire and it will be a massive task for Bayern’s defence to keep them quiet. That being said, I predict a high‐scoring 2‐2 draw with lots of superb, technical football on display.

 

Article originally for Forza Futbol

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