Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich were drawn up against his former team Barcelona, in today’s Uefa Champions League semi-final draw. The former Spanish international and Barcelona captain, Guardiola, will make a return to the club where he made his name as a footballer and manager. He will be up against his former Barcelona and Spain team mate, Luis Enrique, who is now the manager of the Catalan giants.
Bayern Munich will be confident going into the clash against Barca, after giving FC Porto a 6-1 drubbing in the 2nd leg of the Champions league quarter-final, on Tuesday. But Guardiola’s former club will be looking to avenge the humiliating defeat suffered at hands of Bayern at the semi-final stage of the competition, two years ago. Bayern trashed Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate and went on to clinch the 2012/2013 Uefa Champions League trophy.
But Barcelona are once again looking like the formidable team that conquered world football a few years ago. Sitting at the top of the La Liga standings and already in the Copa Del Ray final, Barca will be looking to win the treble this season. With the quality footballers at Luis Enrique’s disposal, they are definitely capable of winning the treble and their chances will be even further boosted, if their talisman and star player continues the fine run of form he’s been in all season.
Arguably the greatest footballer of all time, Lionel Messi, is back to the form that won him 4 Ballon d’Or awards. With 46 goals to his name already this season, one would argue that Messi is an even better footballer now, than what he was under Pep Guardiola. Now a senior member of the team, Messi’s all round game has gone up a notch. He is now not just a lethal goal scorer but also a world class provider of goals. His 46 goals have come with 24 goal assists. Messi has now also become Barcelona’s designated free kick taker, scoring quite regularly with his deadly accurate left foot.
While some players from the Guardiola era have left the club, Barca have also strengthened their squad with some world class footballers. They now also have the skill and prolific goal scoring abilities of Neymar and Luis Suarez, the midfield artistry of Ivan Rakitic, a competent central defender in Jeremy Mathieu and top quality goalkeeping depth, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo fighting it out to be the club’s number 1. Not forgetting the acquisitions of Thomas Vermalaen, Douglas Pereria and the talented footballers from the club’s academy who have made the step up to the 1st team.
Bayern Munich will be the perfect acid test for Barcelona, to determine if the club has reached the level required to conquer European and world football again. Both teams play an attacking brand of football and both will be eager to progress to the finals and claim Champions League glory. Let’s hope that this eagerly anticipated clash, lives up to its pre-match hype.