Throughout the season, Bayern Munich had a few mountains to climb, both domestically and in the international arena. No peak will be harder to scale as the one they face in this second leg, attempting the mountainous task of climbing back into a tie against Barcelona without the resources they can normally rely on.
The semifinal is certainly not over, not after the second leg performances Bayern have displayed in other second legs in this Champions League campaigns. Shakhtar Donetsk and FC Porto are a of a different nature than Barcelona though, the Catalans with a collection of players that could rival several great teams throughout football history.
A third comeback for Bayern would add a new impressive legacy to the club, one that currently has several odds stacked against them. There is no question Barcelona is in the drivers seat though, and only a catastrophic collapse would not see Barça return to Germany in June.
The Match (10th Meeting)
Location: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Head: Mark Clattenburg
FC Bayern: 2 W, 0 D, 0 L – 3 YC
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Television and Streaming:
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FC Bayern: LLLLW
First Leg Result
First Leg Result
UEFA Champions League: 5 W, 2 D, 2 L
Largest Victory: 4-0 (April 23, 2013)
Largest Defeat: 0-4 (April 8, 2009)
This is the second time in three weeks where Bayern have a mountainous task in the second leg of a Champions League tie. What is different? Unlike the potential embarrassment the club was facing against, Bayern go into this leg with the less pressure than any Champions League semifinal match they have played over the past four seasons. To many, advancing to the final is already out of reach, so an unsuccessful comeback would not change the narrative all that much.
With that universal truth in mind, how does Pep Guardiola ensure his side can give its best effort? Several of the players appear exhausted, even with squad rotation in recent weeks. His options remain limited even with the returns of several of his players. He could undertake another drastic tactical shift, but Barcelona are too balanced to get too cute against.
The big change that needs to happen is to return Mario Götze to the team. Bayern could not manufacture chances or keep possession in the final third in Camp Nou, Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski having to create most of the attack themselves. Götze's stellar performance at the weekend has earned him a spot in a match like this, even if it is to perform a similar wing role like he did against Porto.
If Götze is in the starting XI, someone from the midfield diamond from the first leg is going to have to come out. The box-to-box presence of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm will be necessary in a match such as this, as is Xabi Alonso's orchestration in his deep role. That mean's Thiago Alcântara, whose form has dropped in recent matches, may start on the bench, able to come in should Guardiola need a spark in midfield.
Bayern have nothing to lose in this match, and while another Porto performance will be hard to come by, the passion and the work rate from that match will return.
Projected Lineup (4-3-3):
Mario Götze – Robert Lewandowski – Thomas Müller
Bastian Schweinsteiger – Xabi Alonso – Philipp Lahm
Juan Bernat – Jérôme Boateng – Medhi Benatia – Rafinha
Bench: Pepe Reina, Dante, Javi Martínez, Thiago Alcântara, Gianluca Gaudino, Mitchell Weiser, Claudio Pizarro
Out/Suspended: David Alaba (knee), Holger Badstuber (thigh), Franck Ribéry (ankle), Arjen Robben (calf), Sebastian Rode (hamstring), Tom Starke (ankle)
Barcelona are staring a treble directly in the face after another victory at the weekend against Real Sociedad. Now they head to Munich at midweek with a three goal advantage, and would just need an away goal to really seal the tie up.
What will Luis Enrique change in the second leg? Absolutely nothing. Why would he? Ivan Rakitić and Andrés Iniesta did a tremendous job winning balls in midfield, and Javier Mascherano frustrated Thomas Müller to the point the German international became reckless. Luis Enrique knows his best team, and his best team is probably the best team in the world.
The one thing he may consider doing is shutting up shop at one point, especially if Bayern come up with a late comeback surge in the second half. Marc Bartra would be the name to come off the bench, leaving the potential for Mascherano to move to midfield. Luis Enrique used that tactic against Paris Saint-Germain, using Jérémy Mathieu instead of Bartra, and it did not take away anything from his attack.
Their last trip to the Allianz Arena was not very fruitful to say the least, but with a refurbished attack and all the momentum, they are very likely to be the ones jumping for joy once the final whistle blows.
Projected Lineup (4-3-3):
Neymar – Luis Suárez – Lionel Messi
Andrés Iniesta – Sergio Busquets – Ivan Rakitić
Jordi Alba – Javier Mascherano – Gerard Piqué – Dani Alves
Marc-André ter Stegen
Bench: Claudio Bravo, Adriano, Marc Bartra, Martin Montoya, Xavi, Rafinha, Pedro
Out/Suspended: Jérémy Mathieu (ankle)
With such a big deficit, Bayern are going to have to get at least one early goal in order to crank up the heat on Barcelona. The Blaugrana is not going to make it easy, though, and will disrupt every passing lane Alonso and Lahm will try to create. With how well Barcelona are performing in attack, even when they do not look very fluid, it is hard not to see them find a way to get on the scoresheet. That will all but seal the tie for them, making any Bayern comeback a pointless endeavor.