Two of a kind clash as Bayern take on Barca

LONDON – Pep Guardiola is not the only connection between Bayern Munich and Barcelona, who meet in their Champions League semi-final, first leg at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.
Bastian Schweinsteiger  (L) will need to be on top of his game for Bayern against Lione Messi (R), who is in the Barca squad for the first leg clash in Germany. Net photo.
Bastian Schweinsteiger (L) will need to be on top of his game for Bayern against Lione Messi (R), who is in the Barca squad for the first leg clash in Germany. Net photo.

LONDON – Pep Guardiola is not the only connection between Bayern Munich and Barcelona, who meet in their Champions League semi-final, first leg at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

Both teams are dominating their leagues to an almost embarrassing extent, have won the Champions League four times apiece, share an acrimonious rivalry with Real Madrid, and owe part of their success to the flamboyant Dutchman Louis van Gaal.

Both have also been in two Champions League finals in the last four years, though the Catalans won both of theirs and the Bavarians came out losers on each occasion.

Barcelona are 13 points clear at the top of La Liga, yet could be considered underdogs against a rampant Bayern, who wrapped up the Bundesliga two weeks ago and won two games by 6-1 margins this week even when resting their top players.

“The players are just enjoying their football, and our attitude is superb. Every man was totally motivated, we put together some very fluid moves, we showed great discipline, and we created outstanding goals,” said coach Jupp Heynckes after Saturday’s 6-1 win at Hanover 96.

“Once again, the players have proved we don’t have a B-team, we only have an A team.”

Barcelona’s superiority in La Liga has led to suggestions from Madrid media that it has become a formality for them and they will not even celebrate winning it.

“It appears there are people who want to make out that the league doesn’t count for anything, but that’s not the case, it’s a very important title,” said midfielder Cesc Fabregas. “We have worked very hard.”

“If we do eventually win the league, there is no doubt that there is great merit in taking four titles in five seasons,” stand-in coach Jordi Roura said. “It’s a very difficult championship.”

Barcelona will be without injured defenders Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol, leaving Roura with a headache in deciding who will partner Gerard Pique at the centre of the defence.

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