Despite the return of Pep Guardiola to the Nou Camp, Barcelona will be hell-bent on getting one over their former favourites by dumping the German Champions out of Europe.
Guardiola oversaw two Champions League wins whilst in charge of Barca and led the club during a real golden era, winning 14 honours between 2008 and 2011.
Many have argued Luis Enrique’s Barcelona is different to that of his predecessor Tata Martino, yet frequently come to the conclusion that the team remains very similar to the one Guardiola led to multiple titles a few years back.
Having won the Bundesliga already with his all-conquering Bayern Munich side, the Germans travel knowing this is the only competition they have left to win this season, having exited the German Cup on penalties to Dortmund last week.
However, here are three reasons why they don’t stand a chance against a Barcelona side fresh from an 8-0 thumping over Cordoba at the weekend.
The popular messaging system predates Pep, though the Barcelona reincarnation is far superior. Obviously talking about the striking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, the South American contingent have hit over 100 goals between them this season, and each scored in the weekend mauling at Cordoba.
Suarez hit three on Saturday, his first La Liga treble, though you could make a case for each of them as the in-form striker. Stopping one of them, namely Messi, is hard enough and barely any team has managed to stifle all three of them during a single game this season. They make backing a first goalscorer a complete nightmare, but when they play freestyle football in tandem there are few more pleasing sights in world football.
The theme has dictated Bayern’s season somewhat and has been to blame for some of the recent defeats they have suffered. Key men out for the first leg of the Barca game are Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, two players who terrorised the Nou Camp with a scintillating display during the 3-0 victory two years back. Without the counter-attacking threat amidst a possession-based encounter, Bayern are in trouble already.
Added to the wing pair are Holger Badstuber and David Alaba, whilst Robert Lewandowski is a doubt following a nasty collision against former club Dortmund. The Polish forward has a broken jaw and nose, whilst could also be suffering from concussion meaning he may not be risked even in a mask. Whatever the case, Lewandowski surely can’t be expected to play at 100% with half a face!
Despite summer upheaval, the nucleus of this Barca side will have painful memories of the 7-0 thrashing and want to put it right. Players such as Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves, Pedro and Marc Bartra all featured in that painful second leg defeat, whilst a half-fit Lionel Messi was not even brought from the bench to try and bring Barca back into the game.
Having the first leg at the Nou Camp will suit Barcelona and give them the chance to exorcise their demons and kill off Bayern with their threatening triumvirate. Any positive result and the return journey to the Allianz Arena is made easier. Luis Enrique can then set his side up perfectly to combat a Bayern counter, with Javier Mascherano and Sergio Busquets deployed as midfield barriers. That is unless Pep has something rather special stored up his sleeve…