Barcelona will need a minor miracle to overturn a four-goal deficit when they host Bayern Munich at Camp Nou this morning. We’ll have live scores from 4.45am AEST.
If there were any football fans yet to take notice of the continually rising German power, Bayern Munich’s four-nil demolition of Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League semi-final certainly would have done the job.
It is quite the rare phenomenon to see Barcelona comprehensively outplayed, however Bayern’s performance last week was truly a footballing master-class to savour.
The significant first leg defeat has already seen many commentators question whether Barcelona’s reign on top of Europe is over, with Bayern poised, ready and waiting to take the crown.
It’s hard to believe that a team who has all but won back the Spanish La Liga title from Real Madrid and made the semi-finals of a UEFA Champions League tournament could have their season branded as somewhat of a failure, however such are the expectations that follow them.
So ahead of the second leg, exactly what are Barcelona playing for?
You would have to be the staunchest Barca supporter to realistically expect the Spanish giants to overturn the deficit.
However, you can guarantee that the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta and Xavi will not have given up just yet and will be keen to stand up, such is their competitive spirit.
You can be assured that each of the players to take the field will be determined to shake off their first leg humiliation and recent drop in form, to show the world that Barcelona are still a leading force in European football.
And what better way to show this, than by matching it with (arguably) the form team in Europe and possibly the world in Bayern Munich.
There’s not much more to say about Bayern that hasn’t already been said since the already infamous four-nil victory.
Clinical, professional and world-class. You could forgive the German Champions from carrying a small portion of complacency into the second leg, given the manner in which they performed at Allianz Arena.
However, given the stringent nature of Jupp Heynckes’ squad, this will simply not be the case. And indeed, do not expect Bayern to sit back on their four goals aggregate margin.
The Bavarians showed that the best form of defence against the likes of Barcelona was indeed to push forward off the ball and pressure Barca’s passing game.
To that end, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez were arguably the best on field in the first leg, providing no space for the Barca stars to work the ball forward.
How Tito Vilanova will counter this will be a battle in itself, providing plenty of intrigue into the middle of the pitch.
The tie may be all but over but the prospect of two European heavyweights going head to head, with so much to prove, provides a great deal of appetite for any football enthusiast.
And who knows, a couple early goals in front of the Camp Nou faithful could make things very interesting indeed.
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