Barcelona, Bayern Munich Clash Champs League Semis As Pep Guardiola Returns



The glamour tilt of the Champions League semifinal, with all due respect to Real Madrid and Juventus, is the matchup between Barcelona and Bayern Munich. These two clubs have a massive history, especially with the 7-0 thrashing that Bayern served Barca over two legs in 2013, which was a year after Pep Guardiola left Spain. He would then turn up at Bayern to try and win his third Champions League with them after two with Barca, and his return to the Nou Camp will be a spectacle on Wednesday in the first leg.

Bayern Munich at Barcelona – Wednesday, 2:45 PM ET
Champions League Odds: Barcelona -148, Bayern Munich +415, Draw +291

Bayern overcame a 3-1 loss at Porto by routing their opponents 6-1 at home in the second leg to win by a 7-4 aggregate score in a scintillating performance, especially in the first half. However, even though they have nothing to worry about in the Bundesliga (they've won already) all is not happy at Bayern, where they were knocked out of the German Cup by Borussia Dortmund and to make matters worse, Arjen Robben tried to return in that match and left the stadium on crutches, meaning his season is probably done. Robert Lewandowski might also be done after suffering a broken nose and jaw and Franck Ribery probably won't play either. Guardiola would love to have a full-strength side going to Barcelona, and this will be a true test of his managerial skill.

Barcelona dropped PSG 2-0 at home to ride a 5-1 aggregate win to the semifinal and they've been on fire over the last two months, losing just one game since the beginning of February. It took a little while, but the front trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar are beginning to look downright frightening every time they step on to the pitch. They recently combined to score five in a 6-0 rout of Getafe in La Liga and they've powered the team to the top of the table, in which they're still in a fight, but they would love to take a win back to Germany.

These two have met eight times with Bayern winning five and drawing twice, but the 7-0 romp in this stage of the Champions League in 2013 was a debacle and pushed Bayern to a win in the final, while Barca had to reload. Both teams are very offensive-minded and they play basically the same way, pressing the ball all over the pitch as Guardiola has taken the Barcelona model to Bayern with him, but does he have the horses to play that way at the Nou Camp, a place he knows as well as anyone in European soccer (Guardiola went to the academy, played with the senior team for 11 years and then managed them)? It'll be interesting to see if Bayern plays more of a counterattacking game than they usually would, while Barca is going to have a ton of motivation from two years ago. Get ready for the first of what should be two very interesting games between two of the best teams in the world, not just Europe.