Some days ago everybody was stunned by the Champions League's (from now on "CL") second leg results. Liverpool - Real Madrid? 4-1. Barcelona - Lyon? 5-2, remember?
Oh and Bayern - Sporting? That was the game of the famous 7-1. Certainly Barça and Bayern should deserve a trip to the semi-finals, but lady luck did not smile on football fans, since the two most offensive teams in the CL are going to meet in few days time.
Lots of Goals. That is exactly why the two matches will guarantee nail-biting moments and insults to one of the coaches and most of the opposing team's players.
Both teams netted an incredible 48 goals combined, and each scored exactly 24. Both teams have their top players claiming top spots in both assists and scoring rankings, but who will prevail?
Certainly, many will say that Barça is the clear favorite. Why?
They have gone further than Bayern in the last editions (they even went all the way back in '06). They command in respect in Europe and they dominate Spanish football at the moment. And they have a lot of stars: Eto'o, Bojan Krikic, Messi, Xavi, Puyol, Henry...
Let us take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses on both sides.
Barcelona is well...Barcelona. They conjugate the "Joga Bonito" (trans.:"Play Beuatifully") with a precise scheme. There strong in the back and up front. It looks as if they are flawless.
Barça is along with Bayern (!) the most productive offensive side with 24 goals. I could go on and on about their CL stats, but they are all too similar.
It's the domestic campaign that will have to decide it all.
Barça are 6 points clear of their eternal rivals Real Madrid, as they go for yet another championship run. They have crushed Málaga 6-0 in their last game, and Samuel Eto'o netted 25 goals in La Liga in a whopping 28 matches!
On the other hand Bayern is struggling for a first place in the German Bundesliga. It looks like only the CL can save them from utter disgrace...
Barça has another clear advantage. The surprise effect. They can turn the fate of a match in half an hour or less. The second leg match in Lyon is a perfect example: four goals in about half an hour! With fast guys like Messi or Eto'o, only God knows where they are going to strike next.
Of course the surprise effect is a huge weapon against teams like Bayern, who have already planned the match play-by-play.
Barcelona is also a very fast team and the chemistry between the players will be a big factor in difficult times.
Of course, Bayern is also an incredible team. They're very offensive and their Swiss-watch-precision plays are simply amazing. Bayern is and always will be the living example of German football's theories.
Add that to a fast paced player named Ribéry and what you'll get is an explosive side (ask Sporting about that). With players like Schweinsteiger, Klose and Luca Toni (do not forget Lahm) they have everything that is needed to be a great CL side.
But Bayern have another advantage: the physical side of football. They're bigger and stronger. Compare Van Buyten or Lucio to Messi, or Van Bommel to Iniesta. This may help in what will look to be a very physical and fast-paced match.
Nevertheless, big time players will not be able to play during the first leg. Klose and Luca Toni are big losses for the German side, whilst Barça's midfield will resent the absence of Iniesta and Touré.
Of course, Barcelona has, nevertheless, an advantage. Just look at the match ups:
Puyol - Podolski (?): Puyol can guard anyone, and Podolski is not a Klose or a Luca Toni, he's worse.
Messi - Lahm: This could be interesting. Both have a similar physique and both can run very fast. The thing is, Messi can play virtually anywhere. Nevertheless, Lahm will certainly have his hands full, when Messi comes zooming down the line.
Xavi - Van Bommel: Van Bommel is too slow for Xavi, and Xavi is too small for Van Bommel. It will be interesting to see if Van Bommel will keep up Xavi's pace though.
Henry/ Eto'o - Lucio/ Van Buyten: Two phenomenal players against two rock-hard defenders. I bet my money on Barcelona's pair.
Schweinsteiger - (?): Here is the big headache for Barça. With Iniesta and Touré probably out of the game, who will guard this man?
Nevertheless, Barça has the strongest team, and even if Bayern have the advantage of playing the second leg at home, I don't know if it will help them.
My guess: Barça is through with a slight advantage on aggregate.