Bayern Munich vs FC Barcelona: Champions League semi-final first leg preview

bayern barcelona iniestaBayern Munich and Barça commence battle tomorrow evening (Tuesday 8.45 pm) with a place in the Uefa Champions League final on May 25 at stake. With four European Cups each there can be few bigger clashes than this in world football.

Barça travelled to Munich this morning with all 21 available players including Leo Messi. The Argentinian has still not received medical clearance though he will surely be risked for such an important match. Eric Abidal’s cousin Gerard, who donated part of his liver to save Abidal’s life, has also travelled with the team as a special guest.

Bayern are clearly the in-form team. In 2013 they have won 18 out of their 19 matches in all competitions, and their one defeat, the 0-2 reverse against Arsenal in the last 16, turned out to be a victory as Bayern still progressed to the next round. Since the Arsenal game Bayern have won eight out of eight while scoring an impressive 32 goals and only conceding five.

Bayern’s 67-year-old coach Jupp Heynckes will step down at the end of the season to make way for Pep Guardiola but he would undoubtedly love to go out with another Champions League trophy to add to the one he won with Real Madrid in 1998. Heynckes is without the injured Toni Kroos and Holgar Badstuber and the suspended Mario Mandzukic for tomorrow’s game but Bayern have plenty of strength in depth with players such as the experienced Daniel Van Buyten and Arjen Robben and the prolific goalscorer Mario Gomez ready to step in.

Looking through Bayern’s possible starting XI it is difficult to find weaknesses. Manuel Neuer is a top keeper, they have two solid centre backs in Van Buyten and the Brazilian Dante, while Philipp Lahm and David Alaba are both excellent attacking full backs. Bastian Schweinsteiger is the playmaker supported by record signing Javi Martinez in a double midfield pivot. The loss of Kroos means Thomas Muller will play a central attacking midfield role with Franck Ribery and Robben cutting in from the flanks to support Gomez in attack.

bayern barcelona ribery puyol alves toureRibery and Robben are both very dangerous but perhaps they are not so disciplined defensively and Barça will hope to exploit this through Dani Alves and Jordi Alba. There has been a fair bit of debate about who Barça will play in attack and it is possible that Tito Vilanova will opt for the hard-working Pedro and Alexis to combat the threat from Bayern’s wing play. Barça will also want to dominate the midfield so it is likely that Messi will look to drop back to combine with Xavi and Iniesta to gain the advantage over Martinez and Schweinsteiger. Possession is going to be very important and it will be interesting to see how Bayern cope without the ball as they are used to dominating games in this respect.

Besides the choice of forwards Vilanova’s other big decision is who to play alongside Gerard Piqué in central defence. With Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano injured and Adriano Correia suspended the choice is between Eric Abidal and Marc Bartrá. Abidal’s strong performance against Levante has put him in the frame but it still seems more likely that Bartrá will get the job. Abidal’s case is without precedent; before Saturday there might have been doubts about his capacity to last 90 minutes but he demonstrated he can last the pace. Now the doubt is whether he can play another game so soon after the first one but as Abidal is fond of saying ‘impossible is nothing’.

The two sides have met three times before in European competion. In 1996 the Germans knocked Barça out of the Uefa Cup semi-finals after a 4-3 win on aggregate before going on to win the trophy. In the 1998/99 season the teams were paired in the same Champions League group with Bayern winning both games, Barça were eliminated while Bayern reached the final when they famously lost to two Manchester United injury time goals. Barça’s revenge came in 2009 when in the Champions League quarter-final first leg, Eto’o, Henry and Messi destroyed Bayern in a memorable 4-0 win at Camp Nou before a 1-1 draw in Munich. That year, of course, Barça went on to lift the trophy in Rome.

The last time the two teams met was in a preseason friendly on 27 July 2011 with Thiago Alcántara scoring twice in a 0-2 win in Munich. Tomorrow’s game will no doubt be much more difficult though if Barça show the correct mentality and play with a high intensity then I’m sure we can come away with a good result. Both teams have three players one yellow card away from suspension: Lahm, Dante and Luis Gustavo for Bayern and Piqué, Alba and Song for Barça. The referee is the Hungarian Victor Kassai who was in charge for Barça’s 2011 final win over Manchester United and also for last month’s 4-0 win over AC Milan.

Barça’s 21-man squad: Valdés, Pinto, Oier, Alves, Montoya, Piqué, Bartrá, Abidal, Alba, Busquets, Song, Dos Santos, Xavi, Thiago, Fabregas, Iniesta, Pedro, Messi, Alexis, Villa, Tello.

Possible teams:

Bayern: Neuer; Lahm, Van Buyten, Dante, Alaba; Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger; Robben, Muller, Ribery; Gomez.

Barça: Valdés; Alves, Bartrá, Piqué, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Alexis, Messi, Pedro.

Prediction: Bayern Munich 1 Barça 1

Date: Tuesday 23 April 2013. Kick off 8.45 pm local time.

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24 Responses to Bayern Munich vs FC Barcelona: Champions League semi-final first leg preview

  1. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    I’m worried sick now. I read news somewhere that we will start with Messi, Pedro, Sanchez. This is definitely a below par front 3. I would rather Tello, Messi, Villa or our MVP to start. Argghhh my stomach doesn’t feel good for this one. Messi and Xavi not 100% fit, Bartra a gamble in defence. Busquets just after injury. …..why am i not confident at all?? I really don’t want to see Alexis in that starting line-up. Good Lord Jesus, pls save us during this testing times!!!!!

  2. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    another better option will be to play Iniesta out wide and to integrate Song in midfield to add the extra beef. Iniesta, Villa , Messi should be a good enough front 3….waaay better than Pedro, Sanchez, Messi

  3. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    I also have a feeling that Martinez will partner Dante at the back with Luiz Gustavo and Bastian Schweinsteiger in a double pivot role, accompanied by Thomas Muller in midfield.

  4. Anderson samuel says:

    Fcb 3 munich 1

  5. Anderson samuel says:

    Up barca

  6. Anderson samuel says:

    Sanchez pedro can asist d mid field during marking and attacking ok,villa is good but lazy in deffensive time

  7. The rule should be: ‘Let the best team be the winner’.

  8. Fredegar says:

    My god, I’m so excited and so worried! Excited, cos’ if both teams turn up, this could be one of the best football matches ever. Worried, cos’ if we don’t significantly elevate our level compared to the tie against PSG, we could be battered, and so many people would be delighted by our loss…
    It’s also something of an unknown for us: for the first time in years, we will (probably) be confronted to a team that won’t cease us possession. Could we be beaten in this department? Do we take the risk to play our normal game, knowing that the German pressing will lead to terrible counter-attacks? Or do we exceptionnally adapt our game to them, playing two defensive midfielders, as FCB rocks proposes, trying to contain them more? I’m very very happy not to be a coach tonight, cos’ I really wouldn’t know what to do. Vilanova has plenty of decisions to make and plenty of options available to him. Abidal or Bartra? Or Abidal on our left to contain Robben/Lahm? Two defensive mids? Fabregas or not to add some steel in our midfield? And who to go with Messi and Pedro up front? Well, a few more hours to wait, and let’s go for 90 mins full of adrenaline!

  9. benn uhongora says:

    bayen f.c 4 vs barca 1

  10. benn uhongora says:

    baryen wil win tonight

  11. bc9jaCule says:

    Seems to me that most cules are overly worried about this tie. The thing is; regardless of whatever, all Barca needs to do is TURN UP tonight – simple! We must summon the spirit & mentality we invoked when we won the famous 5-0 clasico against Mourinho. Because, I still remember how Mourinho’s Madrid hadn’t lost any match both domestically & in Europe and were so hyped up that I was actually scared. However, I was treated to an entirely different Barca that unforgettable night on 29th Nov. 2010 with electric precision movements, automated pinball passings, hungry wolf pressing, ruthless attacking, and devastating goal-scoring accuracy – which ended in smashing Mourinho’s Madrid with 5 unreplied goals. So, all I ask of our comrades is to summon that same determination & vigour and, believe me, Bayern will be in for a thrashing tonight. On this premise, I’m going for a 1-3 win for Barca.

    Visca Barca!!!!!
    Forca Barca!!!!!

  12. barcacentralomer says:

    I’ve been talking to a lot of neutral football fans and they reckon Barca minus Messi will be beaten by an in-form Bayern side. The uncertainty surrounding Messi’s ability to feature in this fixture adds to Barca’s woes IMO because the playing style revolves around Messi and if we don’t have him there of if he’s not match fit and still on the pitch, can our ‘musical chairs’ forward line rise to this challenge? As much as I like Villa and Sanchez, they’ve both been below par this season. Tello is still work in process and while Pedro always gives 200%, he needs to be able to click with somebody in the centre and usually its been Messi.

    We’re probably going to concede with the relatively new CB pairing of Barta and Pique but we need to come away with an away goal or two and try to keep the deficit to a single goal or two at the most. The pacy Muller is a tricky customer and will be a handful for Barta and Pique. I’m not sure how Busquets will have to help out his CBs because Muller in a free role alongside Robben and Ribery means our CBs and DM will need to be on their toes throughout the match.

    I think the fact that Bayern don’t play the ‘park the bus’ formation means we should try to exploit their flanks because like Nic says,Robben and Ribery don’t like to track back and defend. Even Alaba and Lahm are IMO similar to their Barca counterparts and love to make frequent raids in the opposing half which means they will give Barca a few chances to hit them when we regain possession.

    The midfield is where the match will be decided eventually because if Xavi,Iniesta and Busquets can wrest possession from Bastian and Co. we can frustrate a Bayern side that doesn’t like to play long periods chasing the opposition.

    If Messi isn’t fit my starting XI would be:

    Valdes-Alba-Pique-Barta-Alves- Iniesta-Busquets-Xavi-Tello-Sanchez-Pedro

    I know Tello is a gamble but I think Alves and him can damage Bayern on the flanks. I’m not sure Villa and Tello will both be able to slot in together hence Alexis in the false No. 9 and Pedro will always give his all.

  13. barcacentralnic says:

    Lineups confirmed:
    Bayern: Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba; Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger; Robben, Muller, Ribery; Gomez.
    Barça: Valdés; Alves, Bartrá, Piqué, Alba; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Alexis, Messi, Pedro.

  14. barcacentralnic says:

    Tello not even on the bench.
    Subs: Pinto, Montoya, Abidal, Song, Thiago, Cesc, Villa

  15. barcacentralomer says:

    A surprise to see Tello doesn’t even make the bench. As relieved as I am to see Messi in the starting XI, I just hope he’s reasonably fit to play out the full match or a substantial portion of it. I don’t want to see a repeat of the first leg against Milan where some of or players were put in the starting line-up even though physically they weren’t upto the task.

  16. ewe_gb says:

    so that was a major battering, it even was a lesson that barca get taught by bayern today. actually, barca would need a new management – zubizaretta is not up to the job – plus a president who understands a little bit of football besides finances and marketing.

    this can be a wake-up call, but will the stubborn barca president, management and yes even the coaching team understand it? will it understand that today’s defeat is the result of a history of wrong transfer priorities reaching back to pep?

    every and each team knows how to play barca. the “only” thing you need to do, is to counter and go for set-pieces.

    the next thing to do is to annihilate messi which was easy tonight because he is a lot of things but not fit!

    and to continue: tito and his coaching team has a horrible record against the big teams in this season – real, milan, psg and tonight bayern. there was only one convincing game and that was against milan at the camp nou.

    tonight the coaching team was clueless and tactically outplayed.

    the team was tired, not running enough, not fighting enough and did not have enough quality to compete with bayern.

    but will barca learn the lesson?

    will it invest in center backs: very good ones?

    will it invest in a mobile, physical, technical versatile striker like lewandowski?

    I somehow doubt it because also the players don’t seem to understand that you sometimes might need a plan b, a more balanced physical squad and so on.

    looking forward to your thoughts, nic.

  17. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    I am lost of words. I am angry. And I SAID THIS BEFORE AND I’LL SAY THIS AGAIN. MESSI IS PROVING TO BE BIGGER THAN THE CLUB….AND HE KNOWS IT. BLOODY FOOL DIDN’T EVEN BOTHER ASKING OUT WHEN CLEARLY STILL INJURED. THIS MATCH WAS APPROACHED IN A MANNER AS IF THE TEAM’S PRIORITY WAS TO GIVE MESSI SOME FITNESS AND JOGGING EXERCISE FOR HIS RECOVERY. HECK, WE DIDN’T JUST NOT TURN UP. WE COMPLETELY SUCKED!

    Dani Alves did okay, Pedro ran alot and thats all i can say as for the positives. I’m well and truly gutted by this lost especially our game plan, selection of line-up and utterly disrespecting Bayern with a very very silly line-up. Alexis should BE SOLD by season end. Bartra needs more experience and exposure. We need to buy Mats Hummels. We need to sell Villa and Alexis and purchase someone like Falcao, Cavani, Mandzukic, instead of a player like Neymar. We need to give Tello more and more experience. Heck, Tello should start all our games till season end infact to train some consistency.

  18. Fredegar says:

    We’ve been piss poor and done by the ref, I’m pretty angry tonight. I thought we were in danger tonight, but that was because I thought Bayern could play fantastically. But going out to the second best passing team in Europe who conceded 65% of possession in its own stadium and just turned up for the set pieces (and sliced us like melted butter on said

  19. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Lewandowski wants out of Dormund…. Owh well, how could i expect us to purchase him….i completely forgot that Neymar is waaaaaaay better. We need yet another runner, yet another dribbler……because Tello is not skilled and fast enough. Because Messi, Iniesta and Thiago will need dribbling assistance. Barcelona have a mind of their own when it comes to transfers. We do things in the transfer market that nobody else thinks of…and we don’t realize how stupid it really is most of the time.

    • FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

      And most importantly, we need another short and small sized player. Without small players, we can no longer play our game. The shorter the better. Who cares about corner kicks??? We just lost 2 corner kick goals, it takes 7 in a match to actually be obvious enough for debate. As of now, we are a gigantic team in size.

  20. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    I think Barcelona will solve the CB issue by buying Pablo Piatti during the summer. He will be a perfect partner for Pique in defence. Just the right height we need. All Pique needs to do is carry him on his shoulders when defending a corner, attack the ball and release Piatti on the break by throwing him right back down. Hmmmmmmm what a realistic plan!!!

  21. Pingback: Bayern Munich vs FC Barcelona: Champions League semi-final first leg preview | asigurari

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