20.45, TV3, La 1 –Bayern and Barça meet in the Champions League semi final first leg in Munich
It’s Catalan national day, Sant Jordi, when women buy books for men, and men buy roses for women. And in the evening, they’ll be sitting down together to enjoy one of the greatest games of the year. Bayern Munich host FC Barcelona (20.45, TV3, La 1) in the first leg of what promises to be an absolute cracker of a Champions League semi final. All four of the last finals have included one or other of these two clubs. Barça won the title in 2009 and 2011, while Bayern finished runners-up in 2010 and 2012. And after they were drawn together in the semi finals this year, we already know for sure that one or other them will be back in the final at Wembley next month.
Neither Heynckes nor Vilanova will be going into the first leg with their full squads. The Germans are missing the injured Kroos and suspended Mandzukic, while the Catalans will be missing both Puyol and Mascherano for fitness reasons, and Adriano through suspension. And both sides are in danger of having key players missing from the second leg: Lahm, Dante and Luiz Gustavo of Bayern and Piqué, Alba and Song of FCB would also miss out if they were to get booked this evening.
Schweinsteiger and Messi both ready
But there is positive news as well, especially concerning Bastian Schweinsteiger and Leo Messi. The German midfielder has been in doubt due to an ankle injury, but it seems he’ll have no problems starting this match. He was rested along with Lahm, Dante and Javi Martínez for Saturday’s Bundesliga fixture. FC Barcelona are also pleased to welcome back the best player in the world, Leo Messi, who is fully recovered from his hamstring problems.
Bayern at their best
Bayern come into the game in terrific form. They have already made sure of the Bundesliga trophy and are also through to the German Cup Final. Even so, they have not let off in the domestic championship, with three wins and a draw despite sometimes not fielding fill strength sides. They have their eye on achieving a historic treble this season. But they know that Barça, who put them out of Europe in the 2008/09 season, will be a very tough obstacle to overcome.