April 23, 2013
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Taking nothing away from Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, I think the Champions League semifinal that everyone is really excited about is a meeting between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
The two teams aren't new to this stage of the tournament, as Barca won the UCL title in 2009 and 2011, while Bayern Munich reached the final in 2010 and 2012.
You aren't going to want to miss a single cross, flick or diving save in this contest, and luckily for you, I've compiled all the information you need (along with a preview and prediction) to ensure you catch the full 90 minutes of action.
When: Tuesday, April 23, at 2:45 p.m. ET
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Watch: Fox Soccer
Streaming: Fox Soccer 2Go
What a matchup this will be.
The most important tidbit about this match comes from a game preview on Barcelona's website, which noted, "FC Barcelona are also pleased to welcome back the best player in the world, Leo Messi, who is fully recovered from his hamstring problems."
Suffice to say, that is huge news for Barca.
You could make a very strong argument that these are the two strongest teams in the world this season. Bayern Munich already won the Bundesliga title and are in the German Cup final, while Barcelona has all but clinched La Liga's championship this year.
The talent for both teams is immense. Bayern Munich features Franck Ribéry, Mario Mandzukic, Thomas Müller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez, among others, while Barca counters with Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez, Pedro, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Dani Alves and Gerard Piqué.
It's a who's who of the world's elite, and this is just a semifinal matchup.
Each team will look to attack in different ways. Barcelona will hope to control possession and use tiki-taka passing as a form of defense, slowing the game, controlling the middle of the pitch and hoping Messi can work his magic and earn the Catalans an away goal at the least.
Bayern Munich will look to pressure Barcelona up the pitch, strike quickly on the counter attack when they get the chance and attack up the wings while Schweinsteiger and Javi Martínez will look to disrupt Barca's control of the center of the field.
Both teams are capable of striking in an instant, but both sides also play solid defense and won't hurt themselves with silly mistakes. From a technical standpoint, this match is a soccer geek's dream.
I think both teams will take positives out of this result. Let me explain.
Bayern Munich is arguably the top side in the world right now, with just three losses in all competitions this season. Knowing how difficult Camp Nou is for opponents, Bayern Munich will be the game's aggressors and I believe they'll score two goals in this match. They are not to be underestimated.
But Barcelona is going to get the ever-vital away goal, a huge development as it will mean a 1-0 win at home will be enough to advance. With Messi available, it's hard to predict that Barcelona will be held scoreless.
Bayern Munich wins, 2-1, setting up an amazing return leg at Camp Nou next week.
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