This season’s UEFA Champions League looks set to explode into life this week as the hotly anticipated semi-finals get underway.
Bayern Munich host Barcelona whilst Borussia Dortmund line-up at home to Real Madrid for the first leg action which should provide some of the best footballing entertainment seen so far in 2013.
Neutral spectators were understandably hoping for all German/Spanish encounters in the last four – especially as the teams in question form two of the biggest domestic rivalries in European football.
But the overall quality of the remaining participants meant that any draw was bound to throw up two tantalising, heavyweight ties – and they certainly come no heavier than Bayern vs. Barca who will play out a true clash of champions starting at the Allianz Area on Tuesday evening.
Bayern have powered their way to the Bundesliga title in 2012/13, clinching glory with six games remaining after accumulating an astonishing 20 point lead over nearest challengers and fellow semi-finalists Borussia Dortmund.
Their method of success has arguably been the most impressive out of all the clubs’ 23 German triumphs and they have netted a whopping 89 goals in 30 Bundesliga fixtures so far, conceding just 14 in the process.
Barcelona have found life almost equally as easy to come by in La Liga this season and are simply waiting for the mathematical possibilities to disappear before they can officially lift the Primera Division trophy.
Like Bayern, Barca have surged clear of closest adversaries Real Madrid however they have seldom walked into opposition who are performing as strongly as the Bavarians.
The Catalans will be wary of trying to bring their expansive game to Munich as the home side will be confident of soaking up the pressure – and moreover, they clearly have the firepower to catch Barcelona napping to build a good advantage ahead of the second leg in Spain.
It will be no surprise to see Barcelona try and shut the game out from an early stage but they may well be forced to get creative if Bayern can strike with an early goal.
Capitalising on home advantage will be crucial for Bayern at the Allianz and the same can definitely be said for compatriots Dortmund who must make use of their own surroundings at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday night.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are extremely formidable on home soil and with players such as Mario Gotze and Kevin Grosskreutz in the midfield, they possess the ammunition required to cause Real Madrid lots of problems.
The Black Yellows will definitely have taken notice of Los Merengues vulnerability in the quarter-finals against Galatasaray where they were thoroughly outplayed for half an hour at the Turk Telecom Arena, shipping three quick goals to almost jeopardise their progression to the final four.
Madrid boss Jose Mourinho reportedly got stuck straight into his men following that display and the Portuguese manager will be hoping for a sturdier performance this time around in search of something to take back to the Bernabeu in a fortnights time.
Borussia will surely require a two goal lead in order to give themselves a decent chance of upsetting the odds but they are readily capable and it really is game on all round this week in Europe’s greatest football competition.