Today’s UEFA Champions League draw paired Bayern Munich against FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League Semi Finals. The draw is what many in Spain had hoped for with the prospect of a Clásico Final at Wembley still very much alive.
A similar situation was presented at the same point of the last campaign, with Barça being drawn against Chelsea and Madrid facing the Bavarians. Unfortunately for the fans of the two Liga giants, their dreams were shattered by the English and German sides who went on to contest the Final at the Allianz Arena.
Once again though, the duopoly of the Spanish game have the opportunity to create something unique and create an event that many have dreamed of, but never seen in reality, a Champions League Final between what many consider the two best club sides in World Football.
It won’t be an easy prospect as they are faced with two of the top sides in the modern game, the top two German sides in recent years and neither is a push over.
Barça have been paired with Bayern Munich. Each of the other 3 semi-finalists had stated prior to the draw that the Bavarians were the team they wished to avoid so in this respect Madrid and Dortmund will be the happier to have been drawn against each other.
The Catalans (who have qualified for a record 6th semi-final in a row) will play the 1st leg at the Allianz Arena in Munich, a venue they believe they should have visited in the Final last year, on the 23rd of April. It is a significant date for them as it is Saint George’s Day, the Patron Saint of Catalunya, and they will hoping for a lift against a side that appears the strongest as a unit in this year’s Champions competition.
The two have played each other on 6 previous occasions, the last of which was a 4-0 humbling of the Bavarians at the Camp Nou in Pep Guardiola’s debut season. With the Barça legend due to take over at Bayern in the summer, will he be called upon by Jupp Heynckes to help dismantle the tactical side of the team that he so lovingly created.
Defensively Barça are short of options and will be hoping no more of their players succumb to injury before that match. Adriano and Mascherano will be missing, Puyol may have to attempt to rush back from injury. Many more will be rested and Lionel Messi’s next appearance in a Blaugrana shirt will most likely be in Germany.
The Germans will be without Mario Mandzukic who is suspended. Toni Kroos and Holger Badstuber will also be missing through injury.
Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid have already faced each other twice this season. The Germans recorded a 2-1 win at the Westfalenstadion and then earned a hard fought, but deserved, 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabéu.
Many were claiming at the time that Borussia could go far in the tournament and have had their faith rewarded, but could this be a hurdle too high for them to cross? Madrid are a much tougher prospect now than they were at that stage of the tournament.
Cristiano Ronaldo is in fine form, Higuaín and Benzema rediscovered their scoring touch against Galatasaray. Mourinho has virtually a full squad to choose from. Pepe has muscular discomfort, but could be fit, Arbeloa will be missing through suspension.
Jürgen Klopp has again been linked with the Madrid job, but should not be distracted by the media speculation. He would love a crack at Europe’s top prize with the magnificent side he has created and knows that with players like Götze and Lewandowski he has the weapons to hurt Madrid.
So as far as many would love to witness an all Spanish final at Wembley, the lessons of last year must be learned. Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich must be respected if they are to be overcome.