Barcelona will travel to the Allianz Arena Tuesday night with a dominant 3-0 lead over their German hosts. A late flurry of goals from arguably the world’s best Lionel Messi and Neymar saw the current La Liga leaders put Bayern Munich in an almost insurmountable hole going into the second leg of the fixture. The current form of the two teams are on opposite ends of the spectrum as Barça are in the midst of a season-best 18 game unbeaten streak while Bayern have slumped to four straight defeats including last weekend’s home defeat to FC Augsburg which has led to Pep Guardiola’s longest losing streak as a manager.
The injury list for Bayern Munich will again include some of the best players in the world. The two star wingers for the German giants, Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery, have been ruled out for the remainder of Bayern’s 2014-15 season, while international defenders David Alaba and Holger Badstuber will again find themselves watching from the stands. These injuries leave major holes on the flanks for Bayern and severely limit their attacking options. Alaba’s replacement in the lineup, Juan Bernat, made a crucial mistake in the run-up to Messi’s first goal. It will take a massive effort from the replacement players if the Bundesliga champions hope to string together a second straight comeback in the Champions League.
In Bayern’s last five games, the team has failed to score more than one goal in a match. This can be partially attributed to the injuries mentioned above. Since both Ribery and Robben have both been sidelined, Bayern have failed to find the back of the net. Even with stars like Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze (who Franz Beckenbauer recently compared to a child) on the field for Guardiola’s squad, the lack of pace and creativity on the wings has clearly caused issues in the team’s attack. Guardiola will have to figure out how to spark the attack with the absence of his two star wingers in order to overcome this 3-0 deficit to his former club.
Another victory this weekend moves Barcelona within touching distance of another La Liga title. The Spanish club has only lost once in this year’s Champions League and has only ever allowed more than one goal once in the tournament. Other than the their group stage slip up to PSG in September, Barça have been unstoppable in European competition. In their 11 Champions League games this season, Luis Enrique’s side have been able to keep six clean sheets with impressive performances from first year player Marc-André ter Stegen in net and a solid center back pairing of Gerard Piqué and Javier Mascherano keeping opposing forwards at bay.
In the attack, Barcelona’s talent is almost unmatched. The trio of Luis Suárez, Messi and Neymar are nearly unstoppable. Even if one of them has a bad game, the Catalan outfit can still rely on one of their two other world class strikers to provide the offense. Bayern fans will be well aware of Messi’s pure offensive ability after he embarrassed their backline last week and the Argentine is in one of his hottest goal-scoring streaks of the season. In the last five matches, Messi has scored seven goals with three of those games ending with the striker scoring twice in the match. This formidable attack will pose quite the test for Guardiola’s men.
When the final whistle blows in Munich on Tuesday, I believe that it will be Barcelona making the trip to the finals. The Catalan outfit just has too much depth and talent on both sides of the ball for Bayern to overcome their three-goal deficit. With the injuries plaguing the German outfit, the already improbable task of defeating Barcelona becomes impossible. Barcelona will win this match by a score of 2-1.