The lineups for Bayern Munich v Barcelona are in:

One brief thought on Bayern v Barça before today’s match kicks off:

The most important stretch of play is going to be the opening half hour. Bayern has to put some dent in Barcelona’s lead during that stretch or the tie will be over. If the Catalans find a goal during that stretch, it’s done. If it’s still 0-0 after the first half hour… it’s probably over. To pull back from a 3-0 deficit to a side of Barcelona’s caliber will almost certainly require more than the six minutes that Liverpool took to overcome a similar 3-0 deficit 10 years ago.

Unfortunately for Bayern Munich, this creates an obvious problem familiar to anyone who has had to fight back from a big deficit. Catching up when you are so far behind requires a willingness to take a few risks. The Bayern attack is a 4-2-4 on paper, but my guess is it ends up more 4-1-5 with a very top heavy diamond shape that looks something like this:


If that is how it works out (and I could obviously be totally wrong), then the obvious challenge for Bayern is that they’ll have five defenders to deal with Barcelona’s MSN as well as the midfield threat posed by Iniesta or Rakitic making a run from deep. I don’t think they can handle that. Alonso is too slow defensively and will be pulled all over by Iniesta. That leaves Rakitic basically unmarked as he storms forward from deep. Then you’re looking at that back four trying to deal with the MSN and Rakitic, who has a real eye for goal himself and can shrug off a center back’s challenge if it’s required.

What can’t be doubted is the fact that Bayern will need a herculean effort from Manuel Neuer tonight, perhaps even better than the performance he gave last week in the first leg when he repeatedly denied Luis Suarez. They’ll also need Lewandowski to be sharper in front of goal and they’ll need at least 2/3 of the MSN to play poorly.

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