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Prediction: There will be no surprise in how a Barcelona team based around its three star forwards will approach the game. The intrigue lies in how Guardiola will try to counter them. Whether with three at the back or four, he could well opt to pack his midfield and try to ensure that a team lacking key attacking talent remains in the tie going back to the Allianz Arena. Going forward they will rely on the creativity and dynamism of Thiago as well as getting the likes of Juan Bernat and Philipp Lahm into attacking positions down the flanks. But their big task will be to stop the influence of Messi, particularly his recent penchant for cutting inside and playing devastating passes over the top to Neymar and Suárez. Bayern are often vulnerable to runs in behind and that could be enough to give Barcelona the advantage after what should be an engrossing first leg.
Predicted score: Barcelona 2-1 Bayern Munich
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alves, Piqué, Mascherano, Alba; Rakitić, Busquets, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar.
• Out: Mathieu (Achilles)
Bayern: Neuer; Rafinha, Boateng, Benatia, Bernat; Lahm, Alonso, Thiago Alcántara; Müller, Lewandowski, Götze.
• Out: Badstuber (thigh), Alaba (knee), Robben (calf), Ribéry (ankle), Rode (muscular problems), Starke (ankle)
• Doubtful: Lewandowski (face)
Luis Enrique, Barcelona coach
This is a huge tie against a real heavweight, but I feel positive. I know Pep and I know there could be surprises which could complicate matters. Over the season we have dealt with different problems and surprises our opponents have come up with.
I feel that Bayern, since Guardiola became coach, have a slightly different style. He has maintained the positives and added his own touch. They are, without doubt, one of the best teams in Europe. We are not thinking in terms of beating Pep; we want to beat Bayern, one of Europe’s most famous clubs. I like the word ‘treble’ – I love it – but we know it can go from three to zero.
Defending and attacking will both be key. We have to score goals and not concede any, which means we have to be a complete team. It’s not just about attackers and defenders, we all have to do both jobs. The crowd have to be great, especially supporting the team when Bayern are causing us problems.
Watch: Xabi Alonso press conference
I don’t think Pep has any doubts about what we are going to do. We both want possession and we shall see who is in better shape. This is one of the most attractive matches in Europe. We [Guardiola and I] had agreed to meet in Berlin [for the final] but that won’t happen. It will be nice for the players to see Pep again, but they feel the match is more important. There’s always time at the end of the game to say hello.
Josep Guardiola, Bayern coach
It’s wonderful to be back. I have lots of memories. Obviously it’s very special for me because I was at this club for many years. Now I am with Bayern and I am here for the match tomorrow. That’s my job and I have to do my best. This is a Champions League semi-final with two of the best teams in Europe. It won’t be easy but it wasn’t easy getting here. I am delighted to be here for this semi-final with a great chance to get to Berlin.
I sat here for four years and this is my first time back. I knew that if I coached big clubs there was a possibility of coming back. I am not here for a testimonial but to do my job. I want us to play well here and in Munich.
It’s difficult to find a weakness in Barcelona. We will try to maximise our strengths and find their weaknesses. Their players have been together a long time and know one another very well.
I have always been treated very well here, but we are here to work and the fans here have to support their team obviously. No one has ever bettered Barcelona’s possession. This team has been created for that. Tomorrow it will be tough to take the ball off them. But we will stick to our style and the players will do what the coach feels they have to do. We will see who reaches the final.
Iniesta on Guardiola’s legacy
Barcelona have the advantage of knowing me rather than me knowing them. They have enormously talented players, they are the ones making decisions on the pitch. They know how I think but they don’t know what my players think, so that’s how I will try to surprise them.
If we had complained about injuries, we wouldn’t have won the Bundesliga already and wouldn’t have reached the German Cup semi-finals or these semi-finals. I have never complained and won’t do now.
Messi is unstoppable. In this form, you can’t stop him. He is used to all sorts of defenders. At the moment no one can stop him, he’s too good. You just have to try to limit him, stop the ball reaching him, but even then you can’t stop him.
Lewandowski has trained and I will speak to him. I need all my players to be 100% and I want to know his feelings playing with the mask. Thiago is thrilled to be back. He is a very bold player and of course he has been injured for a year and needed time to recover. But we think he can help tomorrow and next Tuesday.
Córdoba CF 0-8 Barcelona (Rakitić 42, Suárez 45+2 53 88, Messi 46 80, Piqué 65, Neymar 85pen)
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 2-0 Bayern (Hakan Çalhanoğlu 55, Brandt 81)
• Do Barcelona have reason to fear Bayern’s recent record at the Camp Nou? Find out in our extensive match background.
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