Three reasons why Barcelona are Champions League favourites

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What a set of Champions League semi finals we have in store!

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich. Probably the four best sides in Europe at present and when was the last time we could say that about the last four of this competition.

However the draw falls, Barcelona remain the favourites to lift the trophy. Here are three reasons why...

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Different styles

It seems like La Liga watchers have been talking about Barcelona's lack of a Plan B for years.

Always rigidly adhering to the 4-3-3 "tiki-taka" template invoked by Michels, polished by Cruyff and refined by Guardiola.

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If teams knew how to play against the Catalans, they offered nothing else to counter their opposition. Until now.

Luis Enrique's biggest contribution to the club has to be the different styles he has brought in, at no detriment to the team it must be said.

Counter attacks and more verticality in play have brought a different dimension to Barca's play and whomever out of the three that are drawn to play against them, rest assured Luis Enrique will know exactly what's required to win the tie,and beyond.

Messi, Neymar, Suarez

Prior to Christmas 2014, in football circles all we ever heard about was the "BBC" - Real Madrid's Bale, Benzema and Cristiano.

The talented three were going to be taking all before them and lead Los Blancos to glory on all fronts yet again. Wrong.

Since the turn of the year, the form of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez has been unbelievably good. So much so, that the three of them have outscored over 60 of the teams on Europe's top five leagues on their own.

Entirely comfortable with each others' roles, if one is seemingly having an off day, the other two step up.

It will take a very special team indeed to keep all three at bay for 180 minutes.

Defensive solidity

Barca have been renowned for taking teams to the cleaners for a while now, however they've never really tightening up at the back to any great degree.

With Gerard Pique finally taking on the mantle from Carles Puyol, and playing some of the best football of his career in the process, Enrique's only decision has been who to partner him with.

And for once Barca have options there. Mathieu, Mascherano, Bartra and a ring-rusty Vermaelen.

19 goals conceded is their best for many a year at this stage.

Ignore their claims for glory in Berlin at your peril.

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Lionel Messi
UEFA Champions League
Luis Suarez

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