Champions League Quarter Final Preview – Barcelona vs Bayern Munich

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In the last of our rather late Champions League previews we focus on the tie between Barcelona and Bayern Munich. This is the only game without English interest but it could well be the most explosive quarter final given it features the two top scoring teams this year. Both have 24 from eight games, though half of Bayern’s total came against sorry Sporting Lisbon in the last round. Managers Guardiola and Klinsmann met as players for Barca and Bayern in the Uefa Cup semi finals back in 1995/96 (back when it was worth winning) and the Champions League group stages in 1998/99 – Bayern won both the Uefa semi and both CL group games but I think it may be a different story this time.

Pep and Papin

Pep and Papin

 

Super Barca

Under new manager Pep Guardiola, Barcelona have been transformed this season. Key signings like Daniel Alves were made in the summer and star strikers Eto’o and Henry decided to stay and decided to get fit respectively. The result has been dominance at home and abroad with a frankly ridiculous 122 goals in all competitions this season. They are averaging a shade under three goals a game in the league while building up a six point lead at the top with a +61 goal difference. +61! In Europe they strolled through the group stages before dispatching Lyon with a 5-2 destruction  in the second leg at the Camp Nou. They have failed to score just twice in the league and have scored six goals in a game four times. Their defence isn’t bad (24 conceded in 29 league games, but 11 in 8 in Europe) so it’s not a case of we’ll just score one more than you, but the focus as always with a Barcelona team is to keep attacking so if anything the strikers have compensated for any defensive frailties.

If he can do that with his lips, think what his feet are capable of...

If he can do that with his lips, think what his feet are capable of...

 

Not so super Bayern

In contrast to Barcelona’s dominating ways, Bayern have struggled in the Bundesliga currently lying fourth, though just three points behind the leaders Wolfsburg. Those leaders handed them a 5-1 spanking on Saturday so Bayern don’t come into this game in the best of form. Grafite scored a lovely backheel that made their defence look silly. Their attack is pretty good and led by Ribery. Bayern have scored more than two a game domestically with 54 but their defence can be leaky with 36 conceded. Just seven clean sheets have been kept while three or more have been let in five times. Europe has provided relative comfort away from their domestic issues. They went unbeaten in the group stages (which included Lyon) and we’ve mentioned the record win over Sporting. 

How to wrongfoot three players...

How to wrongfoot three players...

 

Key men

Eto’o and Henry have scored over between them but Barca’s key man these days is Leo Messi. Arguably the best player in the world right now, he has scored 30 times for Barca this year. He will look to attack the Bayern defence from the right wing but has to ability to be effective anywhere in the front third. He’ll be ably supported by Dani Alves who will run up and down the right touchline all night long and Xavi who will look to control things from the centre of midfield.

Bayern meanwhile have their own genius winger in Franck Ribery. Him playing well is the key to Bayern getting anything from this game and the Frenchman will look to continue his good recent form in which he scored both times in France’s pair of 1-0 wins over Lithuania. Up front Podolski and Toni will look to aerially attack the Barca defence and test Victor Valdes, who let’s be honest is a bit rubbish.

King of the Bavarian castle.

King of the Bavarian castle.

 

Prediction

I simply can’t see anything other than a Barcelona win tonight. Going forward I think they’ll have too much for Bayern’s defence and it woudn’t surprise me to see them score three or even four goals. I think Bayern have enough going forward to score themselves and Toni and Podolski can certainly cause Marquez and Pique some problems. Ribery may well be better off starting on the right wing so he can attack Sylvinho rather than Daniel Alves but I imagine he will have licence to do as he pleases. If Bayern are still in it for the return leg at the Allianz Arena then it will be a job well done but I fear Barcelona could somewhat humiliate them this evening. I agree with the Football Guy, 4-1.

 

T.

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