Bayern Munich proved that Spanish and European giants Barcelona are human after all by inflicting a crushing 4-0 Champions League first leg defeat this week.
However, many sides have failed to beat the Catalans over previous years so what is the ultimate key to success.
Below are the issues that must go in a team’s favour if they are to succeed where many have failed.
It is important the manager has his tactics spot on and, more importantly, the players in his side stick to their roles religiously. Any lapse in concentration will be capitalised on by the likes of Messi, Iniesta and Xavi often to devastating affect.
Bayern were very clever as they tried to nullify the slick, quick, intricate passing game by pressing the Barca players when in possession and defending narrow forcing the Barca players to use wide areas to try and break through.
The full backs and wide players must be aware at all times of the Barca full backs pushing forward. It is important that any side facing up to Barca play at a very high tempo themselves for the full ninety minutes.
It is important that defending is top notch. Any lapse in concentration can be fatal. All the team need to be aware of their defensive positions when not in possession themselves and not just the back four.
The goalkeeper is very Important in this respect as he will need to be very commanding of his area, barking out orders to his defenders and also must be ready to pull off a string of fine saves when called upon. Barca are never a particular threat from set pieces but their quick feet and ability to avoid tackles make it doubly difficult to win the ball back. It is Important that players stay on their feet and do not pick up any unnecessary bookings because they can soon turn into red cards and with ten men the odds against you will increase immeasurably.
However, Chelsea in their Champions League tie last season were reduced to ten men but overcame all the odds with passion and bravery rarely witnessed before.
Keeping Lionel Messi quiet
Unfortunately I don’t have the answer on how to nullify perhaps the worlds greatest ever player. All I will say is that trying to man-handle him out of the game will not work.
He has a very low centre of gravity and is able to wriggle free of most tackles with his quick feet and will invariably appear with the ball as well! Hopefully Messi will have an off-day but those days are few and far between.
Unfortunately for opposing sides Barca are awash with world class stars so if Messi doesn’t get you then there are plenty more lining up to make that killer pass or score that wonder goal. An unfit Messi which is what Bayern Munich encountered will also help.
Take your chances
It's very Important that any chances you get yourselves are taken because you never know how many goals you may need against a Barca side who are capable of scoring at will. Barca are not the greatest defensive side so you always feel as though you can create chances. Your strikers will need to be on their game and pace both up front and in wide areas will hurt the Spanish outfit. Bayern Munich do possess a lot of quality in this department with the likes of Arjen Robben, Mario Gomez and Thomas Mueller.
Woodwork, goal-line clearances and referee mistakes are also helpful if you are to beat the Spanish giants. Sometimes results in sport can often be down to just luck. However, to say this was the sole reason that Bayern beat Barcelona would be huge disservice to the German powerhouses. They showed their increasing promise in Europe and potential future dominance of the Champions League with this display.
So to beat the Spanish giants it will help to have all the above going in your favour but as we know football can be unpredictable and if Barca turn on the style then no side in world football can live with them. It will be interesting to see how the return leg in the Nou Camp develops.
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