On Wednesday, Bayern Munich travel to the Camp Nou for a UEFA Champions League semi-finals date with FC Barcelona. Seeing as how we're Bayern Munich fans and not experts on Barcelona, we've enlisted the help of our fellow SBNation blog, Barca Blaugranes, for some help in addressing some of the storylines as the match looms. Helping us out today are Bostjan Cernensek and Arron Duckling.
1) This will be Pep Guardiola's first match at Camp Nou since he left. How are Barcelona fans holding up emotionally?
Bostjan Cernensek: Knowing Pep, I'm sure he's handling it emotionally much better that some of Barcelona fans are, emphasis on some. For some it's not enough to simply win against a powerhouse that is Bayern Munich, and they will only be happy if Bayern and Pep are annihilated. What they want to achieve is show that Luis Enrique's Barcelona are better than Pep's Barcelona. True or not, it is about four years too early to answer, but these fans want to teach Pep a lesson and make Bayern suffer a similar outcome as Barcelona did at this stage of the competition two seasons ago at Bayern's hand.
Some of us look at this a bit differently. Don't get me wrong, we too want Barcelona to win just as badly as the previous group, but as long as Barcelona go through the result doesn't matter. Pep will always have a special place in hearts of all Barcelona fans, but on Wednesday night and next week on Tuesday he's the enemy. Doesn't really matter which "group" you feel closest too, it's as simple as that.
2) What is Barcelona's biggest weakness?
Arron Ducking: Well, by virtue of having the world's greatest attack, FC Barcelona's defense is always going to be singled out as their main area of weakness, and while improvements have been made under Luis Enrique, that sentiment probably still holds true to this day. However, with 21 clean sheets to their name this La Liga season, and five more in the UEFA Champions League, our oft-criticized defense has transformed into one of the best in Europe.
Sure, opposing teams can still get at Barcelona by attacking down either flank, especially up against Dani Alves - or indeed by running straight at the heart of our defense - I actually think that our biggest weakness might be our midfield.
I know, it sounds blasphemous but it's true - if we don't establish our style on the midfield, on the opposition and the match in general, we struggle. An excellent case in point would be our first Clasico of the season in which Real Madrid simply overwhelmed us in the middle, and as our attacking trident was inconsistent in providing defensive support, Los Blancos were able to run riot.
Knowing that we're facing off against a team managed by Pep Guardiola, that midfield battle and the repercussions it could have is going to be one of my biggest concerns about the tie.
3) We all know about how good Lionel Messi, Luiz Suarez, and Neymar are but who is the most underrated player on FC Barcelona this season?
BC: Considering how much of the limelight those three have stolen you'd think this would be an easy question, but it's not. Three players immediately spring to mind - bear with me, I'll break it down to a single player.
The first is Claudio Bravo who has been immense for Barcelona throughout the season, but because we're talking about the Champions League here he gets excluded on a technicality, because he hasn't played a single minute in Europe.
The second is Ivan Rakitić. The Croatian has proved time and time again that he is a player that can step it up when times are tough - unlike a certain midfielder that Barcelona recently sold but will remain nameless. It wasn't always easy for Rakitić who had some tough times earlier in his Barcelona career due to the intricacies of the new system, but he has since become Luis Enrique's most trusted midfielder in big games.
The last one I'll highlight is Gerard Pique. For the last two seasons Pique frustrated every single Barcelona fan on the globe with his consistently inconsistent performances. But Shakiro, as he's lovably called, has turned it around this season and has been the cog in the Barcelona back-line that has been one of the stingiest in some time. And that's the reason why I'm naming Pique as the most underrated player on FC Barcelona this season.
4) We miss watching Marc-Andre ter Stegen score own goals. Do you think he can help us remember the good old times on Wednesday?
AD: I confess, ter Stegen's inability to control basic passes is a concern given our style of play, and is probably going to haunt us sooner rather than later; although if the worst does happen, maybe he can consult Manuel Neuer about how to deal with embarrassing UEFA Champions League moments?