The Catalans, who are favourites to advance, will start with a three goal lead in the Champions League semifinal in Munich.
Against Barcelona, Bayern Munich will need something similar to the performance they left on the pitch against FC Porto in the quarterfinals. Porto had a two-goal advantage from the first leg then, however, astonishing many who bet on sports in the EU, Guardiola’s men put five past Brazilian goalkeeper Fabiano in the first half, winning the match 6-1 and advancing with a 7-4 aggregate score.
• Bayern needs crosses
• Both teams to score
• Barca favourites to advance
In that game, the majority of Bayern’s goals came after crosses, and that is a scenario Guardiola might use again to handle Barcelona. But first, he has to make sure that Bayern will dominate in a way similar to what they did in the Camp Nou last week. And he has to make sure that Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar won’t hurt them on the break. It looks like a mission impossible.
Bayern’s dominance was a virtual one
After the opening minutes of the first leg, it looked like a tough night was waiting for Bayern, as the visitors started to play one on one against Barcelona, and the hosts were creating chances after gaining possession in Bayern’s half. Guardiola realized the problem instantly, and after his team wasn’t able to settle in for plan A, he switched to another one after fifteen minutes.
After that, Bayern had a spare man in the midfield and in the defence as well, which made them able to take control of the game. Barca had virtually no penetration from then on and Bayern were able to enjoy more possession than Luis Enrique’s team. It would be a rarity on any football field on the globe according to the mobile betting audience, but in the Camp Nou it seemed impossible before. Guardiola was able to achieve that however.
It was a small, symbolic victory for him, but Bayern couldn’t do anything with the ball. They were dominating the play, having the ball and having it in Barca’s half for long periods in the second half, but they were unable to create chances. They were controlling the ball and the tempo of the game, but they were unable to force their will upon Barcelona, and Messi made a big damage to them in the first moment when Bayern forgot to put enough bodies between him and Manuel Neuer’s goal.
Guardiola needs real supremacy
Now in the second leg Bayern have to dominate and start to create chances as soon as possible. They will be aggressive and they will push Barcelona into their own box at particular stages of the match, but they need quality opportunities to enable themselves to fight for the final. The odds for qualifying at online sportsbooks in the EU suggest that the ticket to Berlin is only Barca’s to lose. With the best forward line of the world, racing possibly against Mehdi Benatia and Jerome Boateng in a half occupied only by the sweeper-keeper Neuer, this might be true indeed.
However, Bayern who lost their last four competitive games, still have the potential to make things interesting. Though this is not the typical way to play for Guardiola’s teams, it worked against Porto and they could benefit from it against Barcelona as well. They need crosses. A lot. Barca’s defence simply can’t cope with crosses. They actually can’t cope with situations when they have to act like a real defence. They are designed for maintaining possession and guarding an empty half behind their back. But they can be confused with balls sent into their box from the wings.
That’s why the absence of Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben really hurts the Bavarians, as their presence usually means an enormous threat from the wings against any defence. Even though they are inverted wingers and their main task is to cut inside, they can beat their markers and can open channels for overlapping backs. However, against Porto, Bayern were able to supply players inside the opposition’s box with balls sent in from the wings without their two biggest stars.
That suggests Guardiola will go with a line-up similar to the one used in the second leg of the previous round. He badly needs his only true centre forward, Robert Lewandowski, who still suffers from a face injury and probably will play wearing his Zorro mask once again. The Catalan manager might use team captain Philipp Lahm in his original role at right back this time. Thus the world champion could take part in attacks from the wings, together with Spanish left back Juan Bernat, and they will be also need to keep an eye on the agile Barca forwards, who can easily tear apart a defence in transition.
Having the best attacking line around, it is hard to imagine that Barca will not score during the game, and Bayern’s only chance for a big win is to confuse the Blaugrana defence with early goals. The setting suggests for players betting at online sportsbooks to go for “Both teams to score”. According to the away goals rule, this means that Bayern would need to score at least five to advance, which is really a mission impossible, even against a confused Barca defence, as the last time Barcelona conceded five was in 2003.
That was a 5-1 defeat against Malaga in a league game, when Xavi was a starter and Luis Enrique came in for the second half. That unlikely scoreline now would send Bayern into the Berlin final and possibly vacate Barca’s managing position. Rumour has it that Barca will get rid of Luis Enrique anyway, and there is an endless speculation about Guardiola leaving Bayern too, though the Spaniard keeps on denying these reports. They possibly meet each other the last time managing their current teams, so it is strongly recommended to create a night to remember.