Barcelona will play hosts to Bayern Munich in the first leg of this explosive UEFA Champions League semifinal at the Camp Nou.
With both teams playing attractive, attacking football, this will be a game that the neutrals would love to watch, and needless to say something the fans of both teams have been looking forward to. It is definitely going to be a tie filled with goals, considering that since 2009, there have been 13 goals scored in 2 knockout ties. Pep Guardiola would be returning to his stomping ground, and he will definitely want to make a statement at the place where he has had so much success. Although both teams seem to be evenly matched, here are a few key battles to watch out for.
Luis Suarez vs Manuel Neuer
One of them is the most prolific strikers in the game today while the other is by far the best goalkeeper, and by a very long way. When both collide, the fireworks are certainly going be sky high. The trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar have started working together since the turn of the year and the results have been there to see. Suarez will be a handful against any team, and for a game as important as the Champions League semifinals, where so much is at stake, he will be eager to make his mark.
Suarez has been waiting for an opportunity to perform on the biggest stages, not exactly getting the chance with either Ajax or Liverpool. But now, with Barcelona, he will get that chance, but standing in his way would be a Manuel Neuer who is on top of his game for some time now. While Bayern Munich is a great side, with some of the best players on the planet, they also have to thank Neuer for the many number of saves he makes in every game, always keeping the team in the match.
When the two face each other, whether the skill of Suarez breaks the wall of Neuer will be an interesting story in the game.
Gerard Pique vs Thomas Muller
Gerard Pique would have revenge on his mind, especially when he remembers the last time the two teams faced each other in a semi final. At that time, Thomas Muller sneaked past a Pique standing at the far post, and scored the all important goal. And that is the kind of threat Muller will once again pose for Barcelona, and Pique in particular. Muller doesna t exactly score long range goals or dribble past defenders, but what he is definitely good at is timing his runs, which is what makes him so lethal and allows him to score so many important goals.
However, Pique wona t be beaten so easily this time around. Since the departures of Puyol and Abidal, Pique has become more mature and is playing at his best again, and does not suffer from the kind of lapses that used to plague his performances. Who comes out the winner may well decide the tie.
Sergio Busquets vs Thiago
For Thiago Alcantara, this will be the first time he will be facing his former club after leaving the team following a series of errors that didna t go down well for the management and the fans. However, for Bayern, hea s proving to be a great signing, with his performance against Porto in the quarterfinals especially inspiring. Bayern has a litany of injuries and Thiagoa s form is god-send for Pep Guardiola.
Thiago, however, will come face to face against a player who is quite possibly the best defensive midfielder of his generation. Sergio Busquets has once again found his best form and is performing admirably for Barcelona after a stuttering start in the first part of the season. He has the capability to retrieve the ball from the opposition and quickly turn it into a counter attacking move, which means Thiago will have to be on the top of his game if he wants to ensure that he isna t made to look like a fool.