FC Barcelona was the top ranked club for both possession and passes, and was also on the receiving end of the most fouls
Their goalscoring record was not so good, with 18 for and 17 against
After reaching the semi-finals for the sixth year running, the Champions League came to an end for Barcelona on Wednesday night. Their participation concluded with a balance of five wins, three draws and four defeats and a number of other stats that we review here:
Possession kings: No team dominated possession like FCB did in the Champions League. They averaged 67% a game, far more than the 55% of Porto or the 54% of Bayern and Galatasaray.
Four record possessions: Barça were involved in four games in which they totally blitzed the opposition in terms of possession. Those were Benfica v Barça (25% and 75% possession), Barça v Celtic (73% and 27%), Celtic v Barça (27% and 73%) and Barça v Benfica (72% and 28%), all of which saw more than 40% difference between the respective sides. No other team came close to such an achievement.
Passing galore: Barça were also by far the best team at completing passes. They totalled 9,401 in the competition, followed a long way behind by Bayern (6,952) and Madrid (6,759).
18 for and 17 against: But ultimately, it’s goals that count, and that was where Barça disappointed this season. They scored just one more goal (18) than they conceded (17), a balance that has nothing whatsoever to do with that of the year before (35 for and 9 against). Four teams managed to score more goals than FC Barcelona.
176 shots: FC Barcelona is, at present, the team that has made the third highest number of goal attempts, 102 of which were on target and 74 were not. The only teams to have more shots than Barcelona’s 176 were Madrid (218) and Bayern (188). But Dortmund are just 13 behind on 163, and will still have the chance to increase their tally in the final at Wembley.
Most fouls received: It seems that one of the tactics employed to detain Barça this season has been fouls. No team has been on the receiving end of more than the Catalans, who suffered as many as 178 fouls, followed by Galatasaray (176), Bayern (174) and Madrid (166). Also, out of the four semi-finalists, Barça was the team that committed the fewest fouls.
19 of the Barça squad trained at the Camp Nou this morning – eight hours before kick off.
The first team squad trained at the Camp Nou this morning ahead of tonight’s game against Bayern Munich. It was a gentle session, typical of a match day, in which the 19 available players put the finishing touches to their preparations for the semi-final second leg. Tito Vilanova will name the regulation 18-man squad just before the game, with one of the players missing out.
Once the session had finished, the players and coaching staff returned to the W Hotel, where they had lunch and will now rest until two hours before kick off, when they will get on the coach for the Camp Nou.
The Catalan and the Frenchman, both of whom are injured, were not named to the team ahead of tomorrow's match
Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano trained apart from the group
Barça took to the training fields of the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper this Tuesday afternoon to prepare for tomorrow’s crucial Champions League match against Bayern Munich. On Wednesday morning the players will complete one final training session, at the Camp Nou, before kick off.
Sergio Busquets and Éric Abidal will not feature in tomorrow’s match. The midfielder has not recovered from the injury that kept him from playing against Athletic Club this weekend, while the Frenchman has picked up a calf injury. Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano took part in today’s session, but they did so apart from the group.
Tito Vilanova has named 19 players to the team for tomorrow’s match against Bayern. The manager was not able to select Jordi Alba, who is suspended. Busquets, Abidal, Puyol and Mascherano, all of whom are injured, were not named to the team.
The manager believes that his players need to go into tomorrow's match against Bayern with cool heads: "we have to play a good game and be the better team, then the goals will come"
“We believe we can fight back, it’s our obligation and we’re convinced [it’s possible],” said Tito Vilanova this afternoon ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League clash with Bayern Munich. “We know that it will be very difficult, but we are Barça and we can never give up on a tie especially when we have 90 minutes of play at home.” Vilanova is convinced that his men will leave everything on the pitch, even if, in the end, they cannot overturn the 4-0 from the away leg. “We have to hold our heads high if we are eliminated, we cannot give up; we need to make our fans proud.”
It’s about playing well
“We have to be ourselves and try to play a good game of football. We need to score goals through our style of play,” explained Vilanova. He also declared that “it’s not necessary to score goals in the first half ... Bayern only scored one in the first half in the away leg".
In addition, the Blaugrana manager admitted that Bayern played an excellent game last week, but the end result was too harsh. “Bayern played a great game but they had a series of favourable situations in their favour. We should have lost that match, but not by so much.”
The power of the Camp Nou
The support from the Camp Nou faithful on Wednesday will be crucial if Barça are to get to the final in Wembley. “If we are going to mount a comeback we need our fans. Both Bayern and Borussia had extraordinary atmospheres last week and that carried the teams forward. We will do our part so that fans find it easier to do theirs.”
“Messi will have things to say”
The manager confirmed that Mascherano won’t play tomorrow: “he picked up his injury four weeks ago and it takes six to recover, he won’t play tomorrow.” Messi, however, won’t miss the match: “the more in form he is the better our chances of getting to the final, but we can’t heap this kind pressure on him, we have to try to help him. A player as good as Messi, at this point in the competition, will have things to say in tomorrow’s match.”
The FC Barcelona full back declares that "the Barça players are convinced that a fight back is possible"
"The only team that can fight back from a 4-0 against Bayern Munich is this Barça"
The Blaugrana are aware of how difficult it will be to fight back against Bayern after the 4-0 from the away leg, but they’re confident that a comeback is possible. “The players believe a comeback is 100% possible. As the days have gone by we’ve been bolstering our confidence with positive messages. Football is also psychological,” said Piqué this Tuesday. “We are talented enough to fight back," he added.
The FC Barcelona full back also called on the Camp Nou faithful to flock to the stadium on Wednesday: “I know the result makes it hard to believe. This Wednesday we all must to have the faith of a child and lose our common sense. If we go into the match with that mentality, maybe we can do it, even if common sense tells us it’s complicated.”
Scoring early is key
“The only team that can fight back from a 4-0 deficit against this Bayern Munich is this Barça. We need to be ourselves, we can’t feel as though we’ve already been eliminated. An early goal would give us a lot of confidence,” said the Blaugrana, who added: “we’re part of a Club that has a lot of history and we’ll do our best to add to that history.”
Scoring early and not conceding any. That’s the goal, according to Piqué, and in order to do it Barça must “open of the pitch, have possession and move the ball quickly.” He added: “We have to be very offensive. The wide backs have to push forward. Messi has to be part of the game. The forwards have to be incisive and the midfielders need to find more room in the middle of the pitch.”
Winning for the fans
“We want to win for ourselves and for the fans, who have always been there for us. The fans have shown their gratitude to the team and this Wednesday we want to play a good game,” said Piqué.
“If the right things come together and if we get lucky, anything is possible,” said Piqué.
“Beckenbauer is a gentleman”
When asked about the statements made by Bayern’s honorary president, Franz Beckenbauer, Piqué explained that “his declarations were misinterpreted.” He added: “I know him personally and he’s a gentleman. Barça has been exemplary for many years.”
Finally, when asked about the controversial decisions against Barça over the past couple of Champions League matches, Piqué only said that “there have been quite a few errors and perhaps it’s time to implement new technologies.”
The Bayern manager says that his team isn't "one that only defends" and he warns that his men will "try to score" at the Camp Nou
"Before the away leg I said that we were going up against the best team in the world and I still believe that," says that manager
Müller: "I hope I'm wrong, but I think we're going to see a different version of Messi than the one we saw in Munich"
Bayern Munich come into tomorrow’s match brimming with confidence but the German’s also have a healthy dose of prudence. “We can’t get carried away by the 4-0 from the away leg. In a semi-final there are two matches and we want to prove that what happened in the first match wasn’t a fluke,” said JuppHeynckes during this afternoon’s pre-match press conference. “Before the match in Munich I said that two top European teams were going to face each other. For me, Barça continue to be the best team in the world and we’ve prepared accordingly,” he added.
Loyal to their style of play
Heynckes quickly rubbished all speculation that Bayern’s approach to tomorrow’s game will be defensive. “We have our philosophy and we’ve shown that we’re a great team and that we can perform at a high level. We are not going to play defensively tomorrow. We’ll be brave and we’re going to try to score,” warned Heynckes, who went on to praise the Blaugrana. “Barça have been an example of sportsmanship when they’ve won, both on and off the pitch. Bayern have learned from Barça,” he added.
Holding his cards close to his chest
Heynckes was then asked about the six players who are one yellow card away from suspension (Dante, Lahm, Luiz Gustavo, Schweinsteiger, Javi Martínez and Mario Gómez) and if their situation affect his plans for tomorrow’s starting line-up: “I’ve rested a lot of players this season. I have 21 players that have been important and the team’s level of play hasn’t dropped. What’s important is that each of the 11 players that do play are at 100% psychologically.”
Schweinsteiger: “Barça’s pride has been hurt”
Thomas Müller and Bastian Schweinsteiger also talked to press ahead of tomorrow’s match. Müller expects “a different version of the Messi we saw in Munich” and he’s wary of what the Blaugrana are capable of doing at the Camp Nou: “they will play like they always do. In Munich they didn’t have a bad first half and it wasn’t until the end that we extended our advantage.” Schweinsteiger added that “Barça’s pride has been hurt and that makes them dangerous.”
Barça beat Bayern Munich 4-0 at the Camp Nou, just four years ago.
8th April 2009. Barça hosted Bayern in the first leg of the Champions League quarter finals at the Camp Nou and put in a spectacular and efficient performance to sweep aside the German team 4-0 and virtually ensure a place in the semi-finals.
The game saw one of the best opening 45 minutes of football ever seen on the ground, as Messi and Eto’o put Barça 2-0 up within the first quarter of an hour. The Argentinean then got the fourth before the break after Henry had made it 3-0 as the Barça crowd thrilled to the team’s exhibition of attacking prowess.
A goal from Keita in the return game equalled Ribery’s opener for Bayern and confirmed Barça’s place in the semi- finals en route to success in Rome – the third trophy in their famous treble winning season.
FC Barcelona haven't lost to German opposition at the Camp Nou for 15 years
Barça will host Bayern Munich at the Camp Nou this Wednesday for the return leg of the Champions League semi-final. Ever since Bayern’s 1-2 victory over Barça in 1998, the Blaugrana have defeated every German team to visit the Camp Nou (10). Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart, Bayern Munich, Schalke 04, Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin – all in the Champions League – have all fallen to the Blaugrana.
Three recent routs
Curiously, the last three results against German teams at the Camp Nou would be enough to either go through to the final or at least force overtime against Bayern Munich, who won 4-0 at the Allianz Arena last week. Barça defeated Bayer Leverkusen by 7 to 1 last season, while Stuttgart and Bayern Munich both fell 4-0, in the 2009/10 and 2008/09 seasons, respectively.
Barça’s most recent results against German teams at the Camp Nou.
2011/12: FCB 7-1 Bayer Leverkusen. Round of 16 2009/10: FCB 4-0 Stuttgart. Round of 16 2008/09: FCB 4-0 Bayern Munic. Quarter-finals 2007/08: FCB 1-0 Schalke 04. Quarter-finals 2007/08: FCB 3-1 Stuttgart. Group stage 2006/07: FCB 2-0 Werder Bremen. Group stage 2005/06: FCB 3-1 Werder Bremen. Group stage 2002/03: FCB 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen. Group stage 2001/02: FCB 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen. Group stage 1999/00: FCB 3-1 Hertha Berlin. Group stage
Despite the fact that a Barça-Bayern is considered a classic matchup in European football, the two sides have only faced off against each other seven times
Five of these games were played in the Champions League and two were played in the UEFA Cup
Barça will host Bayern on Wednesday at the Camp Nou after last week’s 4-0 defeat in Munich. The two teams will battle it out for a spot in the final of the Champions League, which is scheduled for May 25th. Here’s an overview of the juiciest stats and facts surrounding tomorrow’s match:
- Despite the fact that a Barça-Bayern is considered a classic matchup in European football, the two sides have only faced off against each other seven times.
- Of these seven matches, five of them were in the Champions League and two of them in the UEFA Cup. Barça have won one, tied two and lost four.
- The only match between the two sides that ended with a Blaugrana victory was in the 2008/09 season, in the away leg of the Champions League quarter-final. The result was 4-0. Curiously, this result would be enough to force overtime on Wednesday.
- The tie in the 2008/09 season was the only time Barça have ever progressed to the next round of a European competition against Bayern Munich.
- In the quarter finals of the UEFA Cup in 1995/96 Bayern eliminated Barça and went on to the semi-finals. Two years later, in the Champions League, the German once again defeated Barça by winning both matches in the group stage.
- Barça most effective player against Bayern is Leo Messi as the Argentine has scored two goals from three matches against the Bavarians.
- Even though Bayern have won more matches this season in the Champions League, the difference in goals scored between the two sides is pretty similar: Barça have scored 9 goals while Bayern have netted 12 times.
- It’s worth noting that Bayern and Barça have never played against each other in a final.
Of the 12 times FC Barcelona lost the away leg in a Champions League tie, they fought back in the return leg on eight occasions to defeat their rivals
In addition, of these eight victories, five of them were enough for the Blaugrana progress in the competition
The Blaugrana have shown that they can react after losing the away leg of a Champions League tie. Since the 1959/60 season, Barça have lost the first match of a double-header tie 12 times but they fought back on 8 occasions in the return leg. In addition to the victories, Barça also secured three draws and lost only once, against Real Madrid in the 1959/60 season (3-1 in Madrid and 1-3 in Barcelona).
Five of Barça’s eight victories led to the Blaugrana progressing to the net round of the competition. We don’t have to go too far for the most recent example, it was against AC Milan in the Champions League this season when Barça lost at the San Siro by 2-0 but won 4-0 at the Camp Nou. Göteborg, Chelsea, Panathinaikos and Arsenal are the other four teams that were eliminated by Barça despite winning the first leg of the tie. On the other hand, victories against Inter Milan, Valencia and Liverpool were not enough to keep Barça in contention for the Champions League title.
This Wednesday, against Bayern Munich, Tito Vilanova’s men have an opportunity to show their capacity to react after a difficult defeat. The first objective is to play a good game and win the match. Whether or not a comeback is on the cards is impossible to say, but one thing’s for sure, you can never write this Barça off.
German teams have conceded the most goals to the Argentine in the Champions League
Bayer Leverkusen (six goals) and Stuttgart (three goals), are Messi's favourite victims
Bundesliga teams seem to be Leo Messi’s favourite in the Champions League. German sides have conceded a total of 12 goals to the Argentine forward in the European competition, and Bayern Munich is squarely in Messi’s sights as the Bavarians are set to visit the Camp Nou on Wednesday for the return leg of the Champions League semi-final.
Six against Leverkusen
Of Messi’s 12 goals, 6 of them came against Bayer Leverkusen in the Round of 16 of the Champions League. In the away leg in Germany, Messi scored the final goal (1-3) for the Blaugrana, while at the Camp Nou he fired for five of Barça’s seven goals (7-1).
Stuttgart is next on the list as they’ve conceded three goals to the Argentine (one in the group phase of the 2007/08 season and two in the return leg of the Round of 16 of the 2009/10 season). Messi has also scored twice against Bayern Munich (both in the away leg of the quarter finals of the 2008/09 season), and he netted once against Werder Bremen (in the group phase of the 2005/06 season).
Eight goals against Premier League teams
Messi also has an appetite for English teams. The Argentine has scored a total of eight goals against Premier League sides in the Champions League. The BPL is followed by Italian and Ukrainian teams, teams from each league have conceded five times to Messi. Overall, Messi has scored a total of 59 goals in the Champions League and he’s been the top scorer of the competition for the last four consecutive seasons.
On Wednesday, the Camp Nou will feature 90,000 cards in the colours of the Catalan flag and of Barça together with the match slogan.
The only part of the stadium not to feature the mosaic will be area assigned to the Bayern fans.
On Wednesday against Bayern the Camp Nou will look at its very best. Members and fans will have the opportunity to display a mosaic in the colours of the Catalan flag and of Barça. The central slogan for one of the most important games of the season will be the words ‘Barça, Orgull, Barça’, (Barça, Pride, Barça).
Approximately 90,000 cards will be distributed around the Camp Nou except for the area assigned to the Bayern fans. This will be the third mosaic of the season following on from the one in October for the league match against Real Madrid and the one in March for the magnificent CL comeback against AC Milan.
A solitary goal from Shaqiri was enough fro the German champions to secure their 27th Bundesliga win of the season
Bayern Munich coasted to victory against Freiburg, who are fifth in the Bundesliga. Mario Gómez, Javi Martínez and Frank Ribéry featured for the Bundesliga champions while Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger did not suit up for the match.
Goal after 35 minutes
Jupp Heynckes’ men dominated the pace of the match and it didn’t take long for Bayern to score the opener at the Allianz Arena. Shaqiri took advantage of a defensive error to slot the ball to the back of the net.
Bayern Munich will play against FC Barcelona on Wednesday for the return leg of the Champions League semi-final. The Germans come into the match with a 4-0 advantage.
The manager has said that he is feeling better with every day and is “very much looking forward to continuing” to coach the team next season
He has thanked the players and coaching staff for their efforts while he was away, especially singling out Jordi Roura and Aureli Altimira for praise
He feels that Barça are always obliged to go out in front of their fans and show that they are able to compete, and have to believe that they can still beat Bayern Munich
The pressroom at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper was especially busy today, with the media keen to hear what Tito Vilanova would have to say in his first official press conference since returning to Barcelona. The coach was highly optimistic about the situation and also spoke frankly about his future, saying that “I feel strong, and health permitting, I’m looking forward to continuing in the job … I feel well after all that I’ve been through, I didn’t come back any earlier because there were some secondary effects. But I’m feeling better with every day and I was really looking forward to returning here.”
He went on to say a bit about how he had remained in contact with his work while he was in the United States. “There were problems due to the distance. But in New York, my day to day life was generally good, and I was able to keep in contact with the team thanks to new technologies.” There were some tough moments, but he never considered giving up his position. “If ever I get two days off, I don’t know what to do. This job is no burden to me and the doctors told me that the best thing I could do was to work”.
A grateful coach
Vilanova especially singled out his fellow coaches for praise, saying that “Roura and Altimira have done an exemplary job at a very high level … In any other place this situation of not having a manager would have been a big problem. It was a difficult decision for the Club, but I’d have accepted it, whatever it was … The Club’s work-rate and commitment has been extraordinary, we should be pleased with these players for managing to hold their place in the league and reach the Champions League semi-finals for the sixth year running”.
The Bavarian challenge
Tito Vilanova was also pressed on more sports-related issues, and particularly the heavy defeat at the Allianz Arena. “Bayern truly did come into the game on spectacular form, and although we didn’t play badly, we weren’t at our best. But 4-0 was not a fair reflection” he said. “But we are Barça and it is our obligation to go out in front of our fans and show them what we are made of, to compete and try to win. We’ll see what happens. We have to play confidently. I know it will be difficult, but I’m not throwing the towel in”.
Liga, the sooner the better
But before that, Barça visit San Mamés, knowing that they could actually clinch the league title this weekend. “I don’t care when we win it, but the sooner the better” said Vilanova. “I want us to be the champions.” In general, although he accepts there was room for improvement, he is happy with the way the season has gone. “We are having an excellent league, I’m convinced that we’re in the strongest league there is, and getting so many points shows that we are doing things right”.
The names of various players came up during the press conference, but Vilanova preferred not to dwell too much on those matters. “The most important part of the season is upon us, and it’s not the time to be speaking about players coming or going” he said. Neither did he think that the 4-0 defeat in Munich had to change the way people are thinking about the bigger picture. “All year we are panning for the following season and I don’t think there need to be any big changes to what has already been spoken about. It is not easy to make this team any better”. On two of the most sensitive cases, Abidal and Valdés, he did have something to say. On the Frenchman, he commented that “he’ll keep taking things a step at a time as he has done until now” while regarding the goalkeeper he commented that “I’d have no problem if he were to decide to stay for another year”. Valdés’ contract ends in 2014 and he has already announced that he does not intend to renew it.
The vice president for sport has reminded fans that the main objective for this season was always the league title
On the return leg with Bayern, he says that “we can’t give anything up as lost, we have to fight for it”
On next season: “We have a very sound base, but we’ll need to make changes and modifications”
The team needs just six points to make sure of the league title, although they could actually clinch it on Saturday if the results go their way. “Since the start of the season, we have said that the league is our main objective. That’s because we didn’t win it last season” said vice president for sport Josep Maria Bartomeu in an interview on Thursday with Catalunya Ràdio. “Winning that competition always has to be the target for a team like Barça.”
He added that “it has been a difficult championship. To get this far and be 13 points ahead of Madrid is something to celebrate, because that’s not easy at all. This league means a lot. Winning four out of five is something to admire”.
Big day on Wednesday
Neither does he think that any towels need throwing into any rings quite yet regarding the game with Bayern. “We have to go to the ground to support our team because there could always be a surprise.” He insisted. “We can’t give anything up and we now have to fight, because this team has already shown how much character it has. Why can’t we turn the tie around? The players have to believe in themselves. They’re not as bad as some people are saying. They’re extraordinary players”.
Confident in Tito
He also had words about the first team coach: “Tito Vilanova will be managing Barça next year. He and the team have done a very good job. It was not easy to manage a team in a year of transition … And it’s been a very difficult year for Vilanova, as a manager and as a person”.
On possible new signings this summer, Bartomeu said that “there is a very solid base, but we’ll need to make changes and modifications.” But nothing drastic is required, and there’s no way that “we’ll be seeing Barça next year without Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, Piqué or Busquets … There are Barça B players knocking on the door and they’ll get their chances … But there are positions that need reinforcing.” However, at this stage, he was reluctant to go into any more details.
Vilanova’s players had their first training since their defeat in Munich this morning
Squad switch focus to Saturday’s game – which could see them claim the league title.
The full first team squad were back in training this morning following the defeat in Munich, with Vilanova able to call on all his available squad members plus Bañuz from Barça B.. The session centered on preparations for Saturday’s game in Bilbao, which could see Barça claim the league title, should they win and Real Madrid lose the derby game at the Calderon.
The injured Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano both continued with their recovery programmes.
The players will train again on Friday afternoon at 16.30 ahead of the trip to the Basque Country. Coach Tito Vilanova will hold a press conference before the session at 15.30.
Xavi, Messi and Alves, three of the most influential players in the squad, believe the team mustn’t give up on anything. They’re determined to clinch the league title and fight to the end in Europe.
Speaking in the mixed zone of the Allianz Arena, Xavi Hernández admitted: “We’re upset. The score line was a bit excessive, but they were better. They have to be congratulated because they were superior, especially physically”. This analysis is shared by his teammates, such as Dani Alves: “We have to take our hats off to Bayern for their performance”.
The three players clearly want to turn the page and focus on immediate challenges. According to Leo Messi: “We have to pick ourselves up and finish the job in the league as we’re very close to being champions. We also have to try and turn this tie around and, if we can’t, start to think about next season”. Xavi summed up the feeling by saying: “There are 90 minutes to go and we have to try and work a miracle. We are Barça and we have to wear this badge with pride”.
The full back congratulated Bayern on their victory and said "we will try to win the return leg at the Camp Nou"
“I don’t think we need to talk about the referee. They were better and we have to congratulate them," said Piqué
After tonight’s difficult defeat to Bayern Munich, Gerard Piqué made his way to the press room to declare that the German team were the just winners and the superior side in the away leg of the Champions League semi-final. “They are faster and they are stronger. They played better than we did and this Tuesday they were superior. We need to pick ourselves up, play well in the return leg and win La Liga as soon as possible,” said Piqué, who noted that the referee did not influence the outcome of the match.
“I don’t think we need to talk about the referee. They were better and we have to congratulate them,” said Piqué. He added: “We have try and win the return leg at the Camp Nou.”
Bartra is optimistic
“It’s a difficult day. Losing 4-0 isn’t easy, we have to move forward and finish with our heads held high. We scored against Milan four times, why can’t we score four again?” said Marc Bartra. The full back added: “We need to be optimistic. We owe it to ourselves to finish well. I had two chances to score tonight, that’s not normal, but they didn’t go in. We have to keep on fighting.”
Here are the statements made by the Barça players after the match:
“I tip my hat to Bayern for the match they played. It was very difficult to play against them. We have to study what we did poorly, and we still have 90 minutes at the Camp Nou.”
“It’s difficult to fight back, but we’ll try to score the goals we need at the Camp Nou. We have to pick ourselves up, finish off La Liga and try to comeback against Bayern.”
“The result is a bit excessive, but they were the better side. We have to congratulate them because they were superior, they took advantage of their assets. We will try to fight back, because we’re Barça and we’ll keep on fighting until the end.”
FC Barcelona's left back was booked in the 89th minute and won't be available for selection next week against the German team
Tito Vilanova won’t be able to call on Jordi Alba for the return leg of the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich. The left back was booked on the 89th minute for throwing the ball at Robben’s face when the German side were preparing to execute a throw in. Alba had been booked against PSG and Celtic and, therefore, he will be suspended for Barça’s next Champions League match.
Today’s was Alba’s ninth game in the Champions League this season. Throughout Barça's European campaign he’s scored two goals, against Celtic and AC Milan; both at the Camp Nou. Alba was one of three Barça players who were one yellow card away from suspension, the other two are Piqué and Song.
There’s plenty of trivia behind Tuesday’s night’s clash between two of the biggest clubs in Europe, and here we pick out some of the best
This is the fourth time that Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona have been drawn together in an official tournament. Here are some key facts related with this latest encounter between two classic European clubs:
- Barça’s overall record in European competition matches played in Germany is nine wins, ten draws and five defeats.
- It's been eleven years since Barça were beaten on German soil. Since then, they have won five games and drawn three.
- Barça have never won an official match away to Bayern, their record being two draws and a defeat.
- In the 17 times that they have been drawn against German clubs in the knockout stages of a competition, Barça have qualified 13 times.
- Bayern have committed more fouls (137) and received more yellow cards (24) than any other team in the competition.
- Full back Alaba took only 25 seconds to score against Juventus, the seventh fastest goal in Champions League history.
- Neuer, Dante and Müller have played every game in the tournament so far for the Bavarian side, while the only ever-present for Barcelona has been Leo Messi.
- Bayern’s LuizGustavo, Dante and Lahm are all one yellow card short of a suspension, while Piqué, JordiAlba and Song are in the same situation for the visitors. Mandzukic and Adriano are suspended.
- The last time Bayern and Barça met each other was in last year’s preseason friendly. The Catalans won 0-2 at the Allianz Arena.
- The two teams will be meeting again this summer in a preseason charity match. By then, former FCB coach Pep Guardiola will have taken over on the Bavarian outfit’s bench.
Alex Song completed an individual training regiment and did not join his team-mates on the pitch of of Bayern's stadium
The FC Barcelona players completed their first and final training session at the Allianz Arena this Monday evening ahead of tomorrow's Champions League semi-final showdown with Bayern Munich.
The session was marked by the absence of AlexSong, who stayed in the gym to complete an individual training regiment. The player will be able to feature against Bayern Munich tomorrow.
It’s worth noting that 21 players travelled to Bavaria, so Tito Vilanova and Jordi Roura will have to cut the squad by three players before kick off.
This is Barça’s first visit to the Allianz Arena since the summer of 2011, when the Blaugrana faced the German side in a pre-season friendly (0-2). It’s worth noting that Barça’s last official match at the Allianz Arena was in the 2008/09 Champions League quarter-finals, which ended in a one-all draw.
Jordi Roura expects the tie against Bayern Munich to be very intense, and he notes that his players "are very eager and excited to play"
“Messi is feeling well. It looks as though his recovery is on the right track. We’ll see how he feels during today’s training session and we’ll talk to the doctors [before we make a decision on whether or not he plays]," says Roura
Jordi Roura believes the Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich has all the makings of being an incredible tie. “The two teams that have featured in the last four Champions League finals are going to play against each other,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a very equal tie, and it’s going to be decided by small details. Hopefully we’ll play the return leg at the Camp Nou like we did against Milan,” said the assistant manager.
Roura, when asked how Barça plan to defeat Bayern Munich, echoed Xavi Hernández: “tomorrow’s match will be very intense. The team that imposes its style of play will have the advantage. We know how difficult it will be, Bayern are having a spectacular season.”
Excited and eager to play
The assistant manager admitted that Bayern’s level of play over the course of the season has been brilliant, but he warned that his players are ready for the challenge: “we are a competitive team and we’re on form. We’re extremely excited and eager to play. We’ve qualified for six consecutive semi-finals, and that’s important. We’ve overcome a lot of adversities to get to this point. And now that we’re here, we intend to make it to the final.”
Messi, on the road to recovery
When asked about whether or not Leo Messi will feature against the Bavarian side, Roura noted that “he’s been feeling well. It looks as though his recovery is on the right track. We’ll see how he feels during today’s training session and we’ll talk to the doctors [before we make a decision]. Obviously, it’s noticeable if you can’t use a great player.” He added: “whether he players or not can mark this tie, but with that said, we’ve shown that we have a deep and talented squad.”
Roura also said that Barça’s starting team won’t be decided until the day of the match, but he didn’t rule out the possibility of naming Éric Abidal or Marc Bartra to the starting line-up.
The Blaugrana believes that "retaining possession is the key against Bayern"
Xavi Hernández talked to the press ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League semi-final between Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona. During the press conference, the Barça vice-captain said that “retaining possession will be key, not having the ball would be the worst possible scenario. We need to control the ball for long periods of time and take control of the game. We know that Bayern are in form, but we’ll try to impose our style of play. The team that imposes its personality will win the tie.”
“We’re not going into the match as victims”
Knowing full well that the German side are favoured by many to make it to the final, Xavi declared “we aren’t going into the match as victims. Both teams have the same chances of going through. They are an amazing team, but Barça are Barça, we’ve been on top for a long time in Spain and Europe.” He added: “we understand and respect what has been said [in terms of which team is favoured] but we don’t share the sentiment, we’ve qualified for six consecutive Champions League semi-finals ... this is where we wanted to be when the season started. We’re very happy to be here and we’re very eager to play.”
An incredible rival
Xavi then went on to describe Bayern Munich: “they are a very complete team, strong physically and technically. They are perhaps the most on form team in Europe at the moment.” This, however, motivates the Catalan and he expects tomorrow’s match to be extremely challenging: “the tie will be very difficult because of how they’ve been playing all season.”
When asked what he thinks Barça need to do in order to reach the final, Xavi said, “it’s very important to score away from home. We have to attack. The match against Milan is our reference point. We’re in the semi-finals of the Champions League and that motivates us.”
“We’ll see the best Messi on the pitch”
One of the big questions ahead of tomorrow’s match is whether or not Messi will be able to play. “For us, having the best player in the world is fundamental,” said Xavi. “He always makes a difference. He’s very eager to play, and I’m sure we’ll see the best version of Messi on the pitch.”
The Bayern Munich manager says that the Blaugrana are "an excellent group of players" and that he knows Barça's style of play inside and out
Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes talked to the press this Monday ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League semi-final showdown with FC Barcelona. “I know my team better than anybody and I know a lot about Spanish football and Barcelona ... The German press has written a lot about whether or not I’d talk to Guardiola in preparation for tomorrow’s match, and I think that would be disrespectful given Pep’s connection with Barça. Additionally, I don’t need more information on Barça. I know them well enough.”
The German manager went on to praise the Blaugrana as “an excellent group of players” and he noted that AndrésIniesta is “the best European player at the moment.”
Pizarro or Gómez, Heynckes’ options for Bayern’s attack
When asked who would replace the suspended Mandzukic on Tuesday, Heynckes said that he hadn’t made a decision on which forward – Pizarro or Gómez – he’d name to the starting line-up: “I’m lucky in that I can choose between two marvelous players. I have to speak with both of them before I make my decision.”
The Barça director of sport feels the team is in an enviable position that they would have settled for at the start of the season
“It will be a demanding match. When you get this far, you already know how difficult it will be” said Zubizarreta
Andoni Zubizarreta spoke to the media at Barcelona Airport shortly before the team’s flight left for Munich, where they play the first leg of the Champions League semi final on Tuesday night against Bayern. The FCB director of football described this decisive stage of the season. “The time has come to finish off the good work we’ve been doing all season. We are capable of competing through difficult times and that’s the mentality we’re taking with us to Munich”, he commented.
The Basque also spoke about the condition of their club’s star striker. “Messi is with the team and is fit enough to play, but the coaches will have to decide whether he does or not”, said Zubi. “We want to be sure that we have the best possible team on the field.” As usual, he was unwilling to give any prediction of the result, limiting his response to that question to the comment that “football is an unpredictable game”.
Zubizarreta feels that Barça are “in an enviable position” coming into this decisive stage of the season, one “we would have settled for at the start … We are in the semi finals of the Champions League, we reached the semis of the Copa del Rey too, and are top of the league … This is the sixth year in a row that we have made it into the semi finals of the Champions League, and it is here that you meet really tough, demanding and difficult teams”.
Still on the forthcoming game with Bayern, he concluded by saying that “once you have come this far, you know how difficult it is going to be, but our league position helps to take some of the pressure off”.
Barça kick off a week marked by two extremely important matches: the
first will be in Munich on Tuesday for the Champions League semi-final away leg and the second will be away to Athletic Club Bilbao, it will be Barça's last match at the legendary San Mamés stadium
Two extremely important matches await Tito Vilanova’s FC Barcelona this week. The first, which will be played in Munich, is the away leg of the Champions League semi-final against Bayern. The match is scheduled to kick off on Tuesday at 20.45, at the Allianz Arena. After a day of rest, the Blaugrana will return to work to prepare for their next game, which will also be away from the Camp Nou. FC Barcelona will travel to Bilbao on Saturday (kick off at 18.00) to play their final match at the legendary San Mamés stadium. The stadium will be decommissioned at the end of the season to make way for Athletic Club’s new ground. It’s a classic match up in the Spanish league, and depending on the result from the Madrid derby, Barça could come away as La Liga champions if they win.
Here’s a look at Barça’s schedule this week:
Monday, April 22
19.00: Training session at the Allianz Arena in Munich
Tuesday, April 23
20.45: Champions League semi-final, Bayern Munich - FC Barcelona
Wednesday, April 24
Thursday, April 25
11.00: Training session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper
Friday, April 26
11.00: Training session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper
Saturday, April 27
18.00: La Liga, Athletic Club - FC Barcelona
Sunday, April 28
11.00: Training session at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper
Barça and Bayern Munich holding midfielders Sergio Busquets and Javi Martínez are full of praise for each other and both believe that the Champions League semi-final will be close and full of passion.
Javi Martínez: “Sergio Busquets is the key player for Barça. He always keeps his position. He sets up players like Xavi and Iniesta”
“L’equip que estigui més ben plantat, més seriós, és el que arribarà a la final. Esperem que la balança es decanti a favor nostre”, afirma el ‘16’ del Barça
They play in the same position. They were both born in 1988 and have shared success with the Spanish national team. The last Sergio Busquets and Javier Martinez – who get on great together – played against each other was in last season’s Spanish Cup Final and this Tuesday they will again be on opposing sides when Barça play Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi-final. Both are key players for Tito Vilanova and Jupp Heynckes and both are ready for next week’s big challenge.
“Sergio Busquets is a key player for Barça. There are others who get more headlines, but this Barça team have won so many titles thanks in large part to him. Sergio Busquets is the key player for Barça. He always keeps his position and sets up players like Xavi and Iniesta who can go forward knowing that their backs are covered”, according to Javi Martínez. Sergio is equally full of praise for the Basque midfielder: “Javi Martínez has a spectacular physical potential. He gets all around the pitch and wins possession back everywhere. He’s the lungs of the team and as many of his teammates and his coach have said – he is the key piece which the team needed”.
Both players are convinced that the tie will be a real clash of titans: “I think this is the ideal moment for us to face Barça, but the problem is that they are also in good form”, according to the ex-Athletic Bilbao player, whilst Busquets believes “it’s going to be a close game between two big teams who play great football”.
Is there any aspect of the other team which most worries them? “Of Barça, unfortunately, everything! They are a well balanced team with the best player in the world. Even if Messi has an off day, they have other players like Pedro, Alexis, Villa, Xavi, Iniesta, etc.”, says Martinez. For Busquets: “Bayern know what they are doing. They play a game which is easy on the eye for any fan and they have some great individuals. Any of their players can cause problems for you, and as a team too!”.
Key to the win
Finally, the two gave their opinion as to what will be the key to reaching the final: “for me it’ll be the first leg. Against Arsenal and Juventus we went into the second leg with a big lead. This time we play the first game at home and we know we need a good result, because we will certainly be made to suffer in Barcelona”. The Catalan, in contrast, saw the small details as being the most important: “the team which is best organised on the pitch and most focussed will get to the final. It’ll be the small details or some error which will tip the balance - hopefully in our favour!”.
The German team, FC Barcelona's rival in the semi-finals of the Champions League, comfortably defeated Hannover 96
Bayern Munich played away to Hannover 96 this Saturday afternoon ahead of the away leg of the Champions League semi-final against FC Barcelona. Bayern didn’t have any problem bushing Hannover 96 aside as they won by 6 to 1.
One of the defining characteristics of Jupp Heynckes’ team is their lethal accuracy in front of goal. With forwards like Ribéry, MarioGómez and Thomas Müller on the pitch, the Bavarian team crushed Hannover 96. However, the first goal of the match wasn’t scored by a Bayern player, it was an own goal scored by Stindl. A few minutes later, Franck Ribéry doubled Bayern’s lead and Mario Gómez made it three before the break.
Bayern didn’t let up in the second half despite leading by three goals. On the 60th minute, Gómez fired for his second of the night, and minutes later ClaudioPizzaro scored Bayern’s fifth. The final minutes of the match saw Hannover 96 score its first and only goal thanks to a strike from Hoffman. But Bayern wasn’t done, Pizzaro netted his team’s sixth before the referee blew the final whistle.
Bayern Munich will host FC Barcelona at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday evening for the away leg of the Champions League semi-final.
The semi finals meetings with Chelsea in 2009 and Real Madrid in 2011 are two of Barça’s greatest moments in recent years
The cruel eliminations in 2010 and 2012, as well as defeat in 2008, have prevented FC Barcelona from appearing in more Champions League finals
Three disappointments and two triumphs have marked Barça’s recent history in Champions League semi finals
There have been moments of joy and despair in Barcelona’s most recent UCL semi final appearances, with the latest in the series, against Bayern Munich, just around the corner. FC Barcelona are into the last four for the sixth year in a row, and here we remember what happened the last five times they made it so far.
2007/08. Manchester United (0-0 and 1-0) In Frank Rijkaard’s last season on the Barça bench, the team made the first of what have so far been six semi finals in a row. The first leg ended 0-0, with Cristiano Ronaldo missing an early penalty, but a solitary strike from Paul Scholes at Old Trafford was enough to see the Premiership side through to the final in the second leg.
2008/09. Chelsea (0-0 and 1-1) As in 2008, FC Barcelona, now under Guardiola, had to go to England after a 0-0 at the Camp Nou. Once again, an early goal meant Barça were playing catch-up, but this time there was a happy ending, with Iniesta scoring a dramatic goal in the dying seconds to send Barça to Rome and provide one of the most memorable moments of the last decade.
2009/10. Inter Milan (3-1 and 1-0) In their third consecutive semi final, Barça paid the price for a poor result in the away leg. They travelled to Milan by coach due to the recent volcano scare affecting flights in Europe, and the tiredness may have been a factor behind the 3-1 defeat. At the Camp Nou, Piqué narrowed the deficit, but some stolid Inter defending meant Barça missed out on the second goal they so desperately needed.
2010/11. Real Madrid (0-2 and 1-1) The 2011 semi finals paired Barça with their oldest and most traditional rival. A 2-0 win at the Santiago Bernabéu was the perfect start, and with FCB scoring through Pedro, the 1-1 draw in the return was enough to seal passage. That day also marked the return of Eric Abidal, the man who would end up lifting the trophy when Barça won their fourth Champions League at Wembley.
2011/12. Chelsea (1-0 and 2-2) As in 2009, Barça got a poor result in the first leg and failed to make amends in the return at the Camp Nou. And that was despite the perfect start in Barcelona, with goals from Busquets and Iniesta to put the home side back in command. But Chelsea pulled one back before half time, and then a Torres goal in injury time definitively put an end to all of Barça’s hopes of qualifying.
It’s not easy to start a tradition, but FC Barcelona have managed to become a near permanent fixture in the semi-finals of the Champions League. This Wednesday, Tito Vilanova’s men qualified for the... Read more »