Barcelona might be playing for little more than pride against Bayern Munich tonight.
The Spanish side have won their last 10 games at the Camp Nou against German teams, with their last defeat coming against Bayern Munich in 1998.
Barcelona and Bayern have faced each other in seven official games. That includes five Champions League games and two UEFA Cup matches. While Barcelona's key player Lionel Messi has scored 12 Champions League goals against German teams.
Also, with 59 goals & 18 assists, Messi has been directly involved in 77 Champions League goals in 79 games. Barcelona's semi-final opponents, Bayern Munich will not be staying at the same hotel in Barcelona as in 2009, where they lost 4-0 at Camp Nou.
Barcelona's possible XI v Bayern Munich: Valdes; Alves, Pique, Bartra, Adriano; Xavi, Song, Iniesta; Alexis, Messi, Tello/Villa.
The absence of Jordi Alba and Javier Mascherano will be a blow for the Spanish leaders as Alba is missing the game due to suspension, while Mascherano is suffering from a knee injury. This has forced them to continue with the young and inexperienced Marc Bartra in the starting XI who, along with Gerard Pique, found it hard to stop Bayern attacks a week ago. The return of Adriano from injury will be a relief - and he is expected to be played on the left-flank behind Andres Iniesta.
The midfield's contribution will be crucial and important tonight as Bayern will be aggressive and will be looking for an early away goal to seal the game in their favour as early as possible.
To exploit the narrow gaps the Bayern side may leave, the midfield is expected to be brighter than ever. Having an experienced and brilliant midfield the team has nothing much to worry here. But the absence of Sergio Busquets due to an injury will be a blow for the Spanish side while the same can lead to chance for the Arsenal signing Alex Song to showcase his talent.
Having the responsibility of scoring five goals for a comfortable win in 90 minutes, the forward-line is going to be the most important tonight. It’s true that Barcelona should avoid conceding but, moreover, we should score to advance.
Messi will continue in his role as centre-forward. After a dull performance against Bayern in the first leg, the world’s best player is expected to be back to his magical best tonight.
It’s the other two spaces beside him that’s tricky. Having failed to make it into the final squad, Cristian Tello may return tonight alongside Messi and Alexis Sanchez. The latter's spot itself is in doubt with Pedro as a possible candidate to start as the right-forward. Like the first leg, Villa will start the game on the bench as I expect Vilanova to trust the young Spanish winger over the veteran star.
But if Barca want to have a striker in front of Messi, like against Milan, the best man for that job is David Villa. Despite his recent problems in front of goal, Villa is Barcelona's only natural striker and would surely form an attacking threat, especially knowing his ability to link up with Messi.
Wembley has always been good to Barcelona. It’s a magnificent stadium. And now, as Barcelona prepare to achieve a nearly impossible dream of getting there, it’s not the line-up that matters - it’s the work ethic, sharpness and the respect for the crest they wear. That’s what matters.
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