Nobody saw it coming. When Barcelona faced Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal, nobody expected Bayern Munich to throughly dominate the Catalan side, winning 4-0 in a display of physical superiority.
Thus, the odds of Barcelona coming back and reaching the final, even with the second leg at Camp Nou, are slim to none. It would take a 4-0 win just to force overtime and a 5-0 win to move on to the final. Heaven forbid Bayern scores a goal—then, Barcelona would need to win 6-1 to advance.
But hey, if there is one team in the world that could pull off the feat, it's Barca. Below, I've provided the viewing information for today's clash and a quick preview so you don't have to miss a thing.
When: Wednesday, May 1 at 2:45 p.m. ET
Where: Estadio Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
Streaming: FOX Soccer 2Go
Luck. What Barcelona needs right now is luck.
For the Catalans to so much as force overtime, they need to win this game 4-0. When you consider that Bayern Munich has allowed just eight goals in Champions League games this season and has been held scoreless in the competition just once, beating them 4-0 is a daunting task.
But Barcelona has Lionel Messi, which means it is always capable of scoring five or six goals in a game. It was obvious that Messi wasn't quite up to match fitness in the first leg, but if he's in the mood on Tuesday afternoon, things could get very interesting.
One intriguing aspect of the first game was how much Bayern Munich's pressing style frustrated Barcelona and limited the team's overall possession. Few teams are brave enough to challenge the Catalans, and you get the feeling Barca is used to controlling the tempo of the game.
Can they adjust to Bayern's pressure in this contest? Will the German side play more cautiously, holding a four-goal lead? If Barcelona doesn't hold 60 percent of the possession and quickly win the ball back itself, it isn't going to come back in this matchup.
The other area to watch is on set pieces. The biggest mismatch in this contest is Barca's defense and midfield trying to defend on set pieces against the taller Bayern attackers. Barca must limit the amount of set pieces in this contest, or Bayern will surely earn a back-breaking away goal.
Bayern Munich Keys
Bayern must take a lesson from Borussia Dortmund. Their German counterparts went into yesterday's Champions League semifinal with a 4-1 lead on aggregate, and were absolutely bossed by Real Madrid in the first 15 minutes.
Had Los Blancos not blown several golden opportunities, they could have easily scored a goal or two in the first half, which could have moved them on to the final considering they scored two goals late in the game.
The point is this—Bayern shouldn't come out too cautious or defensive in this contest. They dominated Barcelona in the first game by pressuring the Catalans far up the pitch and streaming forward on the counter-attack. Why change now?
From a purely strategical standpoint, it makes sense to be aggressive. Barcelona needs a 4-0 win just to send the game into overtime. Bayern Munich needs just one goal to all but clinch a spot in the final. Why not just chase one goal knowing Barca needs four?
If Bayern sits in a defensive shell and concedes possession, the team will fall into Barca's trap. The Catalans want to dominate possession. They want to slow the game down. They want to dictate the flow of the contest. Offense is defense for Barca.
Bayern Munich can't play cautious. Replicating the game plan from the first game is the smartest way to approach this game.
Barcelona is going to win this particular battle, but it will lose the war. An in-form Lionel Messi is good for at least a goal or two, and Barca is truly frightening at Camp Nou. Plus, for as good as Bayern Munich was in the first leg, at least one goal should have been taken off for a foul and possibly another for an offside call that wasn't made.
And can you really picture Arjen Robben being as brilliant and unselfish as he was in the first game in this contest?
All Bayern needs is one goal to put things away, and given the team's firepower, I think it will get it. Barcelona will win 3-1, but Bayern Munich will move on with a 5-3 aggregate scoreline.