Bayern’s masked warrior to be risked
If you haven’t yet seen the photos of Robert Lewandowski colliding with Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak last week, we advise that you don’t. The Polish striker broke both his nose and jaw in the incident, which forced him out of the weekend’s Bundesliga defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. It’s still touch and go whether the Bayern man is going to be able to play this evening, but Lewandowski has travelled to Barcelona and given the stakes of this game we can’t see their number nine not starting. He would (understandably) have to wear a protective mask, and only time will tell if that’s enough but Lewandowski wouldn’t want to miss this match if he doesn’t have to.
Barcelona to nip at Bayern defence’s feet
A trait of both sides playing tonight, thanks in part to Pep Guardiola in both cases, is a hard-working pressing game off the ball that has a devastating effect when combined with their technical ability. We believe, though, that it will be the home side that benefits mosts from this in the Nou Camp later. Bayern were caught out at the back several times away at Porto in the quarter final first leg defeat, in some cases leading to goals conceded, and with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez in the peak of their powers right now it’s almost certain that they will force some mistakes out of the Bayern back line.
Pep won’t be a distraction for Barca
Despite the return of their former, beloved and highly successful Head Coach Pep Guardiola to the Nou Camp tonight in the huge semi-final tie, Barcelona’s players and fans aren’t likely to let it distract from the challenge at hand. Pep won 14 trophies across a four-year tenure at Barcelona and now in charge at Bayern Munich, has boasted a similarly impressive record. As well as his relationship with the club as head coach, Pep is also a playing legend in Catalan but Barca fans and players will know that with the potential of a final showdown with bitter rivals Real Madrid on the cards, emotion and history will have to take a back seat. There will be no love loss for 90 minutes and both sides will be adamant that the football should do the talking.
It’s another Lionel Messi record
Normally used to shattering records that stood before him, Lionel Messi goes into tonight’s hugely important semi-final tie on the cusp of a personal record of an impressive 100 European appearances. Perhaps fitting that Messi will be facing off against former coach Pep Guardiola as he reaches yet another milestone in his staggeringly impressive career at Barcelona.
Bayern are still lacking their stars
Tonight’s tie promises some of the biggest players in world football and certainly two of the biggest teams in Europe, however Bayern are still lacking in some of their more key and recognizable positions. With Arjen Robben, Frank Ribery and David Alaba all still sidelined for the German champions, they will know that their job tonight is a lot tougher than it could be. Barca head into the tie with only one notable absentee in Jermeny Mathieu and are at full strength aside from that. Those stars who are available for Pep’s Bayern side tonight will need to make up for the dearth in high-profile names and quality.