Bayern ought to smash Barcelona and Messi, however are you able to ever depend the Catalans out?

Bayern ought to smash Barcelona and Messi, however are you able to ever depend the Catalans out?

If historical past has its means, Bayern Munich will stick three or 4 unanswered objectives previous Barcelona on Friday night after which go on to finish their second Treble by successful the Champions League simply over every week later.

When Bayern meet Barcelona’s perennial Spanish rivals, Actual Madrid, in Europe, it is a sort of continental Clasico, filled with enmity, insults, pink playing cards, drama, jealousy, anger and totally blistering football. Meaning the Catalan-Bavarian “mini-Clasico” of Europe has been considerably missed.

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It is comprehensible, I assume, that by the point Barcelona even received the Champions League (in its previous European Cup guise again in 1992), Madrid and Bayern had already lifted this trophy 9 instances between them. They’d additionally crossed swords, kicking, bullying and even stomping on one another throughout 13 two-legged ties: 26 red-hot matches in all.

RM (Madrid) vs. FCB (Barça) in Spain is El Clasico, however RM vs. FCB (FC Bayern) in Europe is unquestionably El Clasico Continental, no query. By comparability, it is fairly outstanding that Bayern and Barça have gone face to face in UEFA competitions solely 5 instances — a mere 4 conferences within the Champions League. However the affect of every of these ties has been genuinely seismic, therefore the concept Friday’s assembly could be, too.

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Bayern first spoiled the Barca celebration in 1996, when their 2-1 win on the Camp Nou within the UEFA Cup semifinal satisfied Blaugrana president Josep Nunez to sack Johan Cruyff, which he duly did. It stays maybe the worst determination within the historical past of the Catalan membership, and whereas Bayern weren’t the foundation trigger, they have been the catalyst.

Even after they subsequent met, two years later within the Champions League group stage, the affect was gigantic. The Bavarians, coached by the sensible Ottmar Hitzfeld, comfortably beat Barcelona residence and away, defeats that assured Louis Van Gaal’s facet would not qualify from a bunch additionally containing Manchester United. It additionally assured that Barca’s dream of reaching the Champions League last, which was to be performed at Camp Nou in celebration of the Catalan membership’s centenary, was shattered. (Oh, and it famously led to that last-second Manchester United defeat of Bayern.)

So, the working total to this point: Bayern trigger Barcelona to sack the best football thoughts there has ever been, then make sure that there was no likelihood of lifting the Cup With The Huge Ears at Blaugrana HQ on the 100th anniversary of their delivery. Not unhealthy, Bavaria, not unhealthy. It took over a decade for Woman Destiny to fancy the Catalan-Bavarian mini-Clasico once more, however it had the identical sort of era-defining affect.

Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates may seem to be they’re susceptible to a heavy defeat vs. Bayern on Friday, however he tends to thrive in these high-pressure, back-against-the-wall conditions. Lluis Gene/AFP through Getty Pictures

Barcelona have been in the course of their Pep Guardiola revolution and already en path to successful each La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Their 5-1 thrashing of Bayern, the house leg sealing the deal on the first time of asking because of a 4-0 (objectives from Samuel Eto’o, Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry) dismantling of Jurgen Klinsmann’s team, set Barca as much as defeat Chelsea and Manchester United and grow to be Spain’s first Treble-winning facet — solely Celtic, PSV, Ajax and Manchester United had beforehand achieved that fabled stage.

You see the development? The German FCB meets the Catalan FCB and large issues occur, both within the second or straight on account of their conflict.

It was the identical story in 2013. Barcelona had ripped the La Liga title race to shreds, taking part in with verve and conviction beneath the late (and much-missed) Tito Vilanova. However his horrible sickness — twice that season, Vilanova needed to hand the reins to Jordi Roura so he may endure most cancers therapy — harm all the pieces about Barcelona’s capacity to organize, mentally and bodily, for assembly Jupp Heynckes’ Bavarian FCB within the Champions League semifinal. They have been first pressed (4-0) on the Allianz Enviornment, after which clinically picked aside (3-0) at Camp Nou. The vastly revered (and never largely modified) Barca squad, which had wowed the football world with their 2011 Champions League victory at Wembley and had then been inside 47 minutes of reaching the ultimate in opposition to 10-man Chelsea in 2012, have been as an alternative pummelled into their document competitors defeat in opposition to Bayern.

By now, given the proof and the stream of the argument, it ought to barely want stating that, in fact, Bayern went on to win that competitors that yr and obtain an excelsior second of their garlanded historical past, changing into the primary German membership to win the Treble, and solely the sixth ever to realize this epic feat.



Craig Burley sees Bayern Munich’s Champions League quarterfinal vs. Barcelona as theirs to lose.

Earlier than the 2014 World Cup, I interviewed Xavi, talked about the footballing catastrophe of the yr earlier than and, filled with conviction, fairly than bravado or bluff, he argued that: “It was an anomaly that we misplaced like that to Bayern; the scoreline would not inform the right story of how the 2 squads measure up. It was the collision of a team in nice bodily and athletic form with one which wasn’t.”

On the time, given the monumental embarrassment for Barcelona’s drained, beleaguered taking part in employees, it took blind religion in Xavi’s sincerity to contemplate taking that argument critically. His phrases got some weight and veracity simply two years later when, rejuvenated and with Neymar and Luis Suarez supporting Messi, Barcelona gave one among their nice trendy performances to beat Guardiola’s Bayern 3-Zero within the Champions League semifinal first leg — with all of the objectives coming after the 77th minute.

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It actually was an epic night time. Bayern making man-to-man, making an attempt to asphyxiate Luis Enrique’s Barcelona, barely making a mistake all night time till first Juan Bernat did so, then Jerome Boateng added his inexplicable rag-doll collapse and the Messi-Neymar partnership ran riot. Neymar’s two objectives in Bavaria additionally meant that the ability of Bayern’s try to wrest again management of the tie was courageous and exquisite, however futile.

Once more, only for the document, the assembly of Barcelona and Bayern led to the winner of these ties not solely successful the Champions League (as in 2009 and 2013), however clinching the Treble, too. Therefore my opening level. If there’s one athletically very good team going into this tie, filled with expertise, that may win a Treble this season and with enticing momentum given their current propensity for scoring seven instances in opposition to English rivals, it is patently not Barcelona.

One other factor historical past dictates is that each time these two have met in a Champions League knockout tie, one or the opposite has received a type of legs by three clear objectives or extra. Once more, that will not be Barcelona this time. They merely aren’t succesful.

On the “evaluate and distinction” check, Bayern are a mannequin for a way, and why, you may change coach midterm and never solely get it proper, however obtain an enormous increase of confidence, organisation, conviction and taking part in energy from it. The removing of Niko Kovac, with Hansi Flick now his long-term, everlasting substitute, addressed vital issues with issues equivalent to morale and taking part in type, hitting the bull’s-eye every time. Now Bayern, totally invigorated, are on the verge of changing into solely the second membership after Barca to win the Treble twice.

As compared, Barcelona’s determination to switch Ernesto Valverde with Quique Setien appears to be like risible.

It is a patent reality that Messi & Co. deeply want the Champions League. It is not simply the status, both; it is as a result of they’ve failed to beat Europe in any respect in 5 years, throughout which Madrid have made everybody kneel, and since a few of them are working out of alternatives to take action.

If want alone was ample to win Friday’s match, together with two extra 90-minute contests in Lisbon, Portugal, then Messi may already be planning the best way to raise the cup and what speech to provide. However that is not sufficient. Maybe, simply maybe, Barcelona have one among their most outstanding trendy performances up their collective sleeves — and there is no denying that football is jam-packed with essentially the most outstanding surprises and human tales — however the proof says no. Loudly.

This may not be a 7-Zero defeat like in 2013, not least as a result of that was over two matches. It appears to be like and feels, significantly athletically, like Bayern have too potent a mix of talent, aggression, bodily energy, pace and stamina. However earlier than you say it, sure — we should take Messi’s genius into consideration.

Can he actually drag Barcelona by way of what must be a no-win, no-way tie? Watch and discover out.

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