Historic drop in form to do little for Bayern morale
Just as they did before the first leg, Bayern Munich rested key players for the weekend domestic game before their Champions League semi final and were duly punished. The Bundesliga may already be wrapped up but nonetheless the club’s defeat to Augsburg will have hurt. Bayern have lost four in a row (we’re counting penalties in the cup) for the first time since 1991, and while Pep Guardiola will have some key players fully fit for the second leg, the performance of the first just days after losing to Bayer Leverkusen suggests it’s not the best form to go into such matches.
Another reckless start from Pep
In an attempt to surprise his friend and opposing manager Luis Enrique, Guardiola started with a back three – man for man against Neymar, Messi and Suarez – in the first leg but had to retreat to a more familiar setup within 15 minutes after Barca ripped the visitors to shreds and were unlucky not to take the lead. While the home side’s goals came later in the game, the starting formation of Bayern was an unquestionable disaster, and yet Guardiola will have to try something similar in tonight’s game. With a three-goal deficit to chase, there will be little joy from a patient, passing Bayern style so a reckless approach from the off in pursuit of an unlikely comeback will be the way to go this evening.
Counter attack will serve Barcelona just fine
With all the pressure on Bayern to come at them, the second leg plays right into Barcelona’s hands. The German hosts may have the ability to retain possession for long periods but it matters little when they must chase their aggregate deficit, and Barca’s attack is exactly who you don’t want to be up against when throwing everything at the other end of the pitch. It seems a given that Bayern will be caught on the break numerous times in this game, even if they manage to get some goals back. Expect a heartbreaking counter attack goal at some point to kill off the game.
Echoes of the Madrid game at Allianz Arena
A big comeback is needed in Munich tonight and Bayern will take great hope from their quarter final turnaround at home to Porto, but it’s more than likely that we’ll see a result that mirrors the visit of a Spanish side this time last year. Trailing 1-0 aggregate from the first leg, Bayern were caught out time and time again in the first half of their Champions League semi final second leg against Real Madrid, going in 0-3 down after 45 minutes and ultimately losing the match by four goals. That was the last time a Spanish side visited the club and Barcelona may well provide similar nightmares this evening.
One step closer to an El Clasico final
Barring a disastrous exit in Germany this evening, Luis Enrique and his Barcelona side should hold on to progress to the Champions League final as long as they put in a good shift. As if it they would need any extra inspiration, Barca’s progress would salivate those staff and supporters at Real Madrid as the prospect of the biggest El Clasico of all time would be within their reach should they turn things around tomorrow. It seems the neutral wins either way tonight.