Pundits, commentators and analysts debated over the end of tikka-takka football along with the Catalans’ stronghold over European football.
However, before everyone gets ahead of themselves this is a two-legged affair and Bayern must go to the Camp Nou to finish the job that is only half-done. Yes, a four-goal deficit is a tough task and a big ask but let’s not forget who we’re asking, here.
Barcelona are not just any old team – they were until last week hailed as the greatest football team in the world, along with Lionel Messi, undoubtedly the best player in the world. They’re not going to roll over and play dead, not at home in front of their fans.
They couldn’t win pretty in Munich but when Plan A doesn’t work, Barca are more than capable of playing ugly – don’t be fooled into underestimating them. They are not underdogs, however impossible their mission now appears.
When they play Real Madrid in the El Clasico fixtures time and time again we see the darker side of the La Liga leaders – all their dirty tricks will be up their sleeve on Wednesday night.
Simulation will be the first of many tricks – they’ll be ardently trying to reduce Bayern to 10 men or at least get their players booked early on. Next, it’ll be surrounding the referee – they’ll all be at it, complaining and harassing the officials at every opportunity.
Former Bayern Munich coach Franz Beckenbauer has outlined this and warned the Budesliga champions what to expect:
"Barca will try everything to throw Bayern off balance. They will deploy all methods, anything that's allowed and anything that's forbidden.”
Beckenbauer says ‘off-balance’ but I imagine it’ll be a little more than that – literally every throw-in, corner, goal-kick, and free-kick Bayern are awarded Barca will complain and winge and every challenge from Bayern on a Barca player will be followed by amateur dramatics, handbags and overreactions – Barca will do everything they can to influence the referee and project themselves as the victims of foul play.
They will play their football and try to score a couple of goals early on – any sniff of fear or anxiety in the Bayern team will be capitalized on and the Camp Nou is not the venue to lose your nerve. If the Catalans can go in at half-time with half the deficit, I’d put money on them making it to the final.
Bayern beat Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates and then fell completely to pieces on the return leg at the Allianz; they were inches away from being knocked out by the Gunners who won the second-leg 2-0.
If that could happen in front of their home fans, I have no doubt it can happen at the Camp Nou – especially against Barcelona, Lionel Messi and 90-odd thousand Catalans all influencing the officials.
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