Barca vs Bayern
Venue: Camp Nou
Kick off: 7:45pm
All eyes will be on Pep Guardiola on Wednesday night when he takes his Bayern Munich side to the Camp Nou – a venue where he served Barcelona with such distinction as both a player and a head coach.
There will be no room for sentiment in this first-leg encounter, though, with a place in the final of the Champions League at stake.
Played five, scored 20 and conceded none – that is the form that Barca take into their clash with the German champions.
Having hammered Getafe 6-0 at the end of last month, Luis Enrique’s men went two better against Cordoba at the weekend as they hit their hosts, who were relegated as a result, for eight.
Three of those goals were scored by Luis Suarez, who seems to have now found his feet following his big-money summer switch from Liverpool. The Uruguayan international has scored five goals in his last two outings and 10 in eight appearances.
His form as part of the attacking trio alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar, who have scored a record-breaking 108 goals between them this term, sees Barca top the La Liga standings and has also been a major reason behind their positive displays in the Champions League.
Overall, the Catalans have played host to German opponents on 25 occasions, from which they have recorded 17 wins and suffered seven defeats.
Prowling up and down the Bayern technical area, no doubt in a sharp-looking suit, will be Guardiola – the man who oversaw Barca’s most successful ever period.
During what was a golden four-year spell at the helm in Catalonia, Barca won no fewer than 14 trophies, including the Champions League on two occasions.
Yet, every manager has a ceiling and in 2012 Guardiola decided that he had taken his boyhood club as far as he could. A 12-month sabbatical followed, before he took up the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of Jupp Heynckes, who had just guided Bayern to a treble.
Unsurprisingly, five trophies have followed – one of which was this year’s Bundesliga title. Guardiola, though, wants more, particularly after his side were humbled in the semi-finals of the Champions League by Real Madrid last season.
Meanwhile, a much-changed Bayern team were defeated 2-0 away at Bayer Leverkusen last time out. Such results could well be a cause of concern for Guardiola as he prepares to head home.
Barcelona possible starting lineup: Ter Stegen; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Suarez, Messi, Neymar.
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup: Neuer; Bernat, Benatia, Boateng, Rafinha; Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Alonso; Thiago, Gotze; Muller.