Clash of the superpowers
Messi declared fit for Barcelona’s semifinal showdown against German giants Bayern Munich. Messi in numbers | Quote shootsports Updated: Apr 23, 2013 03:54 IST
Pep Guardiola is not the only connection between Bayern Munich and Barcelona, who meet in their Champions League semi-final, first leg at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.Both teams are dominating their leagues to an almost embarrassing extent, have won the Champions League four times apiece, share an acrimonious rivalry with Real Madrid, and owe part of their success to the flamboyant Dutchman Louis van Gaal.
Both have also been in two Champions League finals in the last four years, though the Catalans won both of theirs and the Bavarians came out losers twice.
Barca are 13 points clear at the top of La Liga, yet could be considered underdogs against a rampant Bayern, who wrapped up the Bundesliga two weeks ago and won two games by 6-1 margins this week even when resting their top players.
“The players are just enjoying their football, and our attitude is superb. Every man was totally motivated, we put together some very fluid moves, we showed great discipline, and we created outstanding goals,” said coach Jupp Heynckes after 6-1 win at Hanover 96.
“Once again, the players have proved we don’t have a B-team, we only have an A team.”
Bayern’s dominance has caused some disquiet in the Bundesliga, which often proclaims itself to be Europe’s most open league.
Barcelona’s superiority in La Liga has led to suggestions from Madrid media that it has become a formality for them and they will not even celebrate winning it.
“It appears there are people who want to make out that the league doesn’t count for anything, but that’s not the case, it’s a very important title,” said midfielder Cesc Fabregas. “We have worked very hard.”
“If we do eventually win the league, there is no doubt that there is great merit in taking four titles in five seasons,” stand-in coach Jordi Roura said. “It’s a very difficult championship.”
Meanwhile, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, who was struggling from a hamstring injury, is fit to play against Bayern Munich, the Spanish club’s sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said on Monday.
“Messi is with the team and is fit to play, although it is ultimately up to the coaching staff to decide,” the former Spain goalkeeper told reporters. “We’re not going to give up on fielding the best possible side.”
First Published: Apr 23, 2013 00:49 IST