Champions League Preview: Pep’s Dramatic Return

Guardiola and Barcelona

The matchup between Barcelona and Bayern Munich Wednesday night will pit two of the most dominant clubs in recent years against each other. It will also see Bayern boss Pep Guardiola take on the team that he led to 14 trophies while managing, including two Champions League titles. It will be an emotional return to the Camp Nou for Guardiola, but I have no doubt that he will bring with him a world-class Bayern side that are fully capable of leaving the famous Spanish stadium with a vital result.

Bayern are currently in the midst of an unfamiliar bad run of form. For the first time all season, the German giants have lost two straight matches. A heartbreaking loss to Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup was immediately followed up by another disappointing result against Bayer Leverkusen with a 2-0 loss. Bayern have already secured the German League title but they cannot afford to go into a lull of form before this massive Champions League fixture. Despite claiming a league title, many fans would consider it a failure if they can’t win the Champions League. considering the talent they have.

A major point of concern for Munich fans will be the players that aren’t on the field. Frank Ribery, Arjen Robben, David Alaba and Sebastian Rode have all been ruled out for the matchup. This grocery list of injuries almost had another name on it after Robert Lewandowski suffered facial fractures in the side’s DFB-Pokal loss to Dortmund. Even at full strength, the match against the Catalan side would have posed quite the test for Guardiola’s men and the loss of these key players have just made the journey to the finals even trickier and some might argue impossible.

14 goals in two games. That’s what Barcelona has managed to do in their last two La Liga fixtures. Not since February 21st has the Catalan outfit suffered a defeat and not since September 30th have they lost a Champions League fixture. The Nou Camp has been a fortress for Barca this season. In 17 league games, only two teams have been able to hand Lionel Messi’s squad a defeat and no European opposition has been able to even earn a draw in their Spanish travels.

Other than an injury to Jeremy Mathieu, Barcelona will go into Wednesday’s matchup at full strength. The menacing attacking trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have combined for 14 goals in their last three games and a grand total of 115 goals in all competitions this season. In the Champions League, the three have scored 20 goals between. Even with keepers as talented as Manuel Neuer standing between the pipes, Bayern will consider themselves extremely lucky to concede less than two goals.

I can’t see Barcelona losing this game. The form that they’re in and the talent that they have is impossible to bet against and the injuries to some of Bayern’s star players just further my confidence in the Spanish side. Final result: Barcelona 2-0 Bayern Munich.

 

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About the author: Collin Carpio

 

I am currently a senior at the University of Missouri in the Journalism School. I have been an avid follower of Manchester United since 2006 and of course I support the Stars and Stripes. Due to my St. Louis high school allegiances, I am a big supporter of Brad Davis and Sporting KC in MLS.


 

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