Wednesday, April 8, 2009

CL Quarterfinals Preview: Barcelona v. Bayern Munich

We are all made of stars!

Oh, to be anywhere in the world of sport today... to be at the Nou Camp for this footy feast!

Let's start here: it's a shame ESPN decided (as if there were ever really a choice) to air the annual Chelsea/Liverpool sweater-puller ahead of Messi, Klinsi, Henry, Eto'o, Klose, Toni, and, perhaps most importantly, Munich's beleaguered center backs. The potential for Barca to run riot up the middle is real, as is the prospect that Klinsmann will instruct his lads to defend with the ball at their feet. To push for goals, goals, goals.

Compare this to the parallel fixture back in ol' Blighty and you have, well, no comparison at all. People have been complaining about Liverpool/Chelsea for years and while they've been mostly turgid affairs from a technical standpoint, the games have been memorable. They've had juice. They've had injustice! (Or not) They've had heat and errant heads.

But gone are the days of Mourinho & Makelele -- when Chelsea were a riddle to unlock-- and with Liverpool focused on trying to pussyfoot into the EPL Title back door, the doings on ESPN2 carry even less allure. (The fact is that Liverpool only began to stomp ass when they were left for dead in England, and even then, with one sniff of United's tail Los Rojos were back to their old ways, bailed out by another 90th minute miracle from the the Seder-skipping Vunderjuden.)

The REAL Theatre of Dreams!

But I digress, what we have here (catch it on Setanta or Setanta Broadband) in balmy Catalunya is the hope for a Sunday-style shootout. For no talk about away goals. At least not in the context of "get one, then park der volkswagens back in Munich." With Munich's central defense so hobbled, it'll be interesting to see how the home side shuffle their numbers. Breno, a teenager, and Martin Demichelis will be charged with blunting Barca's terrifying triumvirate, and should one of them fall, it'll be a lad named Holger Badstuder on in his place. All the more reason we have to think Bayern will look for possession. And goals.

It's goals, after all, that have kept Klinsi in his job at Munich for this long. Sitting fourth in the Bundesliga, maybe the only team in the top flight to not hold the top spot for at least an hour this season, it has been Champions League dreamball that's kept the manager in Chairman Rummenigge's modest graces. At their best, Bayern remind you of Germany in summer 2006. This team has a lot of the same key players (though Klose is out through injury) and a lot of similar tensions, mostly surrounding the manager and his decidedly not stereotypically German managerial peccadilloes.

Bayern will need vintage (is that the word? Probably not) Podolski, Toni to nick something, Schweinsteiger to crack something, Ribery to grind and create, Lahm to bomb one... they'll need a lot.

Barcelona will need only to be what Barcelona have always been. They're not more than a club, but they're still something special. It's in the Catalan beach breeze. Sing it, now!

Useful information

*Kickoff at 2.45 edt
*Yaya Toure and Al Hleb are fit for Barca... as are Messi and Alves, both restricted to sub roles last week in La Liga
*for Bayern, if you're a center back above the age of 20 and not named Demichelis, you're not fit (or home in Belgium on "personal leave," like Daniel van Buyten.)


Mike Georger said...

For the gambling set, Bayern are +750 to win today, I like those odds.

And boo fucking hoo about ESPN showing the Liverpool game.

The NY Kid said...

Yaya Toure always makes me hungry

The Likely Lad said...

@Georger Chelsea haven't beaten anyone worth a shee-it in months and the Livepool act is getting old (as much as i admire torres)... want me some continental boogie today!

Andrew said...

Barca-Bayern is, traditionally speaking, a much more interesting match-up then Pool-Chelsea. Both pairings are great, and even with Arsenal playing yesterday, I was looking forward to today.

My picks: Bayern and Liverpool move on to the semis.

jjf3 said...

@Andrew: care to change your picks now? :)
(not being a total ass, I would probably have picked the same combo before today's games...)