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#UCL BARCELONA vs BAYERN MUNCHEN: 5 Key Battles

Andres Iniesta v Xabi Alonso

Having gone into battle together in Vienna, Johannesburg, Kiev and the various other areas of the globe in which Spain achieved stunning success over the past decade (we’ll not mention Brazil) now Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso find themselves thrust into combat at club level.

That’s nothing new, of course. The pair have faced off against each other in numerous El Clasicos and even during Alonso’s time at Liverpool, but they do so now as the elder statesmen of their sides and with crucial midfield battles to win.

Andres Iniesta v Xabi Alonso

Having gone into battle together in Vienna, Johannesburg, Kiev and the various other areas of the globe in which Spain achieved stunning success over the past decade (we’ll not mention Brazil) now Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso find themselves thrust into combat at club level.

That’s nothing new, of course. The pair have faced off against each other in numerous El Clasicos and even during Alonso’s time at Liverpool, but they do so now as the elder statesmen of their sides and with crucial midfield battles to win.

Barca’s Front Three v Expectation

And when those chances are flowing, there isn’t currently a better attacking trio around to try and take them than Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

A staggering 108 goals have flowed from the boots and occasionally the heads of Barca’s ‘MSN’ in their first season together, with Suarez overcoming apparent inhibitions when he first joined the club to now reach levels of form that surpass even the displays we saw when he almost single-handedly took apart the Premier League last season.

Stationed alongside a Messi still as capable of the sublime as he’s ever been and, in Neymar, a player who has a staggering and almost unnoticed record of 33 goals this season, they could blow Bayern away tonight and render the second leg meaningless.

 

First Leg v Second Leg

That said, are we more likely to see a tight, technical battle tonight which would then lead into the tie being decided in Munich next week?

Throughout his managerial career, Pep Guardiola has almost cultivated a reputation as a boss who seemingly sacrifices the ascendency in away legs before dominating the second contest at his home ground – as Miguel Delaney discussed in detail before the clash with Porto in the quarter-final – but will he be happy to cede possession to a team he knows almost everything about, and therefore knows just how good they are?

 

Pep Guardiola v Nostalgia

Indeed, it is that element of ‘knowing all about’ Barcelona which looms so large over this tie.

Guardiola returns to the Nou Camp as the hero who was seemingly just too tired to carry on operating in such an intensely scrutinised job at his club and in his city, and whilst it is almost impossible not to imagine him back in the Nou Camp hotseat at some point later down the line in his career, what sort of emotions will this comeback stir up?

Any sort of clouded decisions or mindset are likely to be pounced upon by his former teammate Luis Enrique in the other dugout, and Barca won’t need a second invitation to expose any weakness.

Bayern Munich v Injuries

A look at the Bayern injury list for tonight would indicate just where that weakness is even before kick-off, with key players such as Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and David Alaba ruled out whilst Robert Lewandowski is a doubt with a facial injury.

Feeling sorry for one of the greatest clubs in the world because of their absent players is never likely to be an activity which catches on, but with Bayern having already won the Bundesliga and seeing their resources stretched to the limit, will this be a test too far for them?


 

Credits: bet.unibet.co.uk

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