Barcelona vs Bayern Munich: Champions League preview
All the latest news and information ahead of the Champions League quarter-final clash between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
Barcelona predicted XI vs Bayern Munich
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, De Jong, Griezmann; Suarez, Messi
Bayern Munich predicted XI vs Barcelona
Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Thiago, Goretzka; Coman, Muller, Gnabry; Lewandowski
Barcelona vs Bayern Munich preview
The only two previous winners of either the Champions League or European Cup still left in this year’s competition are Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Both have been crowned champions of Europe five times and they face off at the Estadio da Luz in Friday’s hotly-anticipated quarter-final.
Barcelona started off well in this season’s Champions League, topping a group that contained Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan without losing a game. However with unrest brewing at the Camp Nou and league performances dipping the club dismissed head coach Ernesto Valverde in January, despite having won back-to-back La Liga titles. New boss Quique Setién was supposed to instil a more fluid style of play but his reign has struggled to get going and a disappointing defeat to Osasuna in July saw Real Madrid crowned Spanish champions.
Most worryingly for Setién, Lionel Messi used his post-match interview to criticise the team and he branded the side as “inconsistent” and “weak”. The club captain said that performances since January had been particularly poor, which many took as a pointed barb at Setiñen who had never previously coached in the Champions League. Messi has cut an increasingly frustrated figure this season and he seems desperate to add a fifth Champions League winners’ medal to his collection.
Although it seems a strange thing to say of a player who has contributed 57 goals this season (31 goals and 26 assists), at 33 the Argentinian’s best days are surely drawing to a close and he does not have the support around him that he once had. Barcelona have looked particularly shaky in defence this season and conceded 38 goals in as many La Liga games, more than eighth-placed Getafe.
After a disappointing 1-1 draw with Napoli in the first leg of the last-16 tie Barcelona were able to show their class with a 3-1 win in the second leg last week, thanks to a goal and an assist from their talisman. However with a trophy-less season looming, rumours suggest that defeat to Bayern Munich on Friday could be the final nail in the coffin for Setién.
Bayern Munich rang the changes too
The first part of Bayern Munich’s 2019/20 season followed much of the same pattern as the Blaugrana’s. Some below-par performances and unrest in the squad saw title-winning coach Niko Kovacs removed from the dug-out, replaced by former assistant Hansi Flick. He too had never previously managed a truly elite team but Flick took to the role with much greater success than Setien and lead his side from fourth to first position to win an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title. Bayern have won 29 of his 32 games in charge, giving him the best points-per-game (2.76) of any single season managerial record in the club’s history.
The Bavarians picked up the DFB-Pokal in their last competitive game of the season with a 4-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen and are now just three matches away from the treble. Barcelona are currently the only club to have won two European trebles but Bayern could draw level with them if Flick can match the feat of Jupp Heynckes’ 2012/13 side.
Central to their chances is the form of Robert Lewandowski, who was a losing Champions League finalist for Borussia Dortmund in 2013. The Polish striker is playing the best football of his life at the age of 31 and has an incredible Champions League record this campaign. He has scored 13 goals in just 7 games to leave him four short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2013/14 record for most goals in a single Champions League season. With three goals and four assists against Chelsea in the last round he was involved in all seven of Bayern’s goals and he has looked unplayable at times this year.
The two sides with most European pedigree come head-to-head on Friday and history suggests that the winner has a good chance of being crowned champions of Europe again. They met in the quarter-finals in 2008/09 and in the semi-finals in 2012/13 and 2014/15. On each of those occasions, the victor has gone on to lift the trophy.
Barcelona vs Bayern Munich: injuries and suspensions
Barcelona were without midfielders Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal for their second leg match against Napoli but both should be available for selection against Bayern, with the former very likely to start.
Samuel Umtiti has definitely been ruled out due to a knee injury while Ousmane Dembele faces a race against time to be fit enough for a place on the bench. Martin Braithwaite was left out of Setién’s Champions League squad list so will not feature.
Bayern Munich have been boosted by the return to training of Kingsley Coman and Jerome Boateng, who both missed last weekend’s win over Chelsea. Boateng will almost certainly return to the heart of the defence alongside David Alaba, while Coman will compete with Ivan Perisic for a place on the left of Bayern’s attack.
Benjamin Pavard is out of this game due to a ligament injury but Bayern hope to have him fit to play some part in their Champions League campaign, should they progress past Barcelona.
Barcelona vs Bayern Munich: what the managers said
Qique Setién (Barcelona): "They are a complete team, capable of attacking, defending, bringing a lot of people into the attack, pressing well.
"If we can get past their pressing, and that is something we are good at, then you can hurt them. We will have to defend and attack [well]. But it's even."
Hansi Flick (Bayern Munich): "It's not just Bayern against Messi. It is Bayern against Barcelona. Messi is a world class player and we have obviously thought about how to play him.
"We need to do it as a team. It is important to play smart against him. To see the spaces and put him under pressure in the one-on-ones and win those."
Barcelona vs Bayern Munich: prediction
Going on recent form Bayern Munich would be the clear favourites to make the semi-finals for the seventh time in nine seasons. They have looked imperious since the restart and swatted Chelsea aside in the last round, but their route forward is blocked by the best player in the world with a point to prove. Lionel Messi has proved too much for Bayern to handle in the past but it is an enormous ask for him to turn the tie in Barcelona’s favour. Bayern remain the logical choice, but with Messi there is always a chance. 1-2 (AET)
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