The most anticipated clash in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League is the one between Bayern Munich and Barcelona. The Catalan club, one of the most dominant in Europe in the past decade, maybe for the first time ever is considered as an outsider even before kick-off. The powerful squad of the Bavarians and their dominant season in the Bundesliga make them not only favorites in this match, but also favorites to win the whole thing.
But football would not be so interesting if the team that looks stronger on paper always wins on the pitch.
Barcelona had an unsuccessful season in La Liga – losing the title to Real Madrid is always the sign of significant failure, so the UEFA Champions League remains the only chance to turn the season into something of a success. The biggest hope as usual is Leo Messi, who although suffered an injury in the match against Napoli, will likely be ready to play on Friday night at the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon.
The Argentine will lead Barcelona’s midfield, perhaps the only part of the pitch where the Catalans can outplay the opponent. On the other side will be Thiago Alcantara who is going to be the playmaker for the German side progressing the ball upfield. Bayern usually dominant their opponents, which is why Alcantara does not face difficult defensive duties, but this time, in a direct duel with Messi, he is expected to have a long night.
Besides Messi, Arturo Vidal is back from suspension and is almost certain to start, and the Chilean might be a key player for Barca. He has developed a great connection with Messi and the two love the passing combinations at the edge of the box, usually on the right side, so they’ll be trying to explore the Alaba-Davies pairing all night. Vidal is also a great pressing player and will not lack a motive and energy to fight his former club.
Although the Bavarians are considered a good defensive team that has kept clean sheets in four matches this season in the Champions League, Barcelona with Messi and Suarez is a team that can score against anybody on any given night. Benjamin Pavard is still injured and will miss the match on Friday which gives one more reason for optimism for Quique Setien.
Anyway, a clash of the titans awaits us between the two teams that have won the UEFA Champions League five times each. The last competitive macth where they shared a pitch was in 2015 when Luis Enrique’s Barcelona dismantled the Bavarian club and secured their place in the Berlin final where they defeated Juventus 3-1.
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