Unbeatable in germany – but what is that worth in a duel between europe’s superpowers?? On the way to the champions league final, FC bayern won’t let lionel messi’s FC barcelona stop them either.
"We meet an absolute top team, but we are also a top team. It’s going to be a party and we can all look forward to it," munich captain philipp lahm said before the semifinal first leg, boosting anticipation. No one in the team wants to let the swirl around helmsman uli hoeneb take away from the positive mood before the hoped-for magical night of fubball in the semifinal international between germany and spain.
Questions about the president’s affair were not allowed at the bayern press conference one day before the first leg on tuesday, players and coach were isolated from the unpleasant topic in preparation for the duel against the non-plus-ultra in fubball.
Coach and captain preferred to talk about their own strengths and those of the opponent anyway. "Barca has players with a lot of imagination, with an extraordinary class. That’s why you have to be on your toes in every situation and at every point of the game," warned coach jupp heynckes, but stressed: "bayern can also play at such a high level." bluff or no bluff: heynckes prepares his bayern for barcelona with the world’s best footballer messi, who has been ailing lately.
"We have already missed him, but i think we will see him at his best version. He will also want to show what a great player he is," said barcelona midfielder xavi ahead of the clash against the "strongest team in terms of form in europe. "This is a celebration, not only for bayern, but also for us," stressed the world and european champion.
Bayern against barca, schweinsteiger against xavi, everyone against messi – against the club that has repeatedly been chosen as a role model, the foundation stone for the final match on 25 june is to be laid in munich. May be laid at london’s wembley stadium. "We have to give everything in terms of enthusiasm. But without tactics, without a plan and without cleverness, it won’t work," is how sporting director matthias sammer formulated the central message for the 90 minutes in munich. With a win in the bag, preferably by zero, the german fubball record champion then wants to stand up to the tiki-taka artists in camp nou next week. "We want to crown the season," declared world championship goalkeeper king thomas muller.
But how can you stop fubball king messi?? Heynckes stressed that barca "is more than just messi". But in countless fantastic performances the argentinian, who was spared in the league at the weekend, has shown why he is a permanent world champion. "Messi is a genius, a fantastic player. Barca lives strongly from him," explained sammer. "We have become better and better and want to prevail. But the youngest story of barcelona remains exemplary."
And FC bayern? The munchner, beaten "cruelly" (lahm) in the previous year’s final against FC chelsea, have returned stronger than ever. "We have the players and characters to compete, to win. We have the right type of players on the field to hurt barcelona," said the captain ahead of the duel between former barca and future bayern coach pep guardiola. "I think he will also enjoy it. I think he will stick with barcelona," mutmabte xavi.
Four years ago, in the quarterfinals, with the 0:4 in one of the blackest european cup hours of the munchner in barcelona, it looked quite different. Back then, two-time goal scorer messi played bayern dizzy with his congenial compagnons. At the time, however, the back line also included oddo, demichelis, breno and lell – lahm, van buyten, dante and alaba are of a different caliber altogether. And in front of them is a munich formation that has already impressed with its holistic defensive play. "In 2009 barcelona was much better than us. Now we have another team. Now we are better. Now we can win," stressed franck ribery, the only munich player besides bastian schweinsteiger in the team that lost 4-0.
Heynckes praised the concept, philosophy and players of the opponent – and the skills of his own team – one day before the treat. "FC bayern has also shown the same this year."The championship title with so many records, the cup entry and the sovereign reaching of the konigsklasse semifinals are proof for that. Now we will see what all this is worth against the best of the past years. Lahm was pleased that they had "made it to the top". Whether it is enough for the catalan leadership will be seen in the two games this week and next week.
At the back the FC bayern as a collective wants to stop messi and the other ball virtuosos. For the offense love heynckes open who will replace the suspended mario mandzukic in the striker. The tendency goes to mario gomez, but also claudio pizarro is in a top recording. "After mandzukic’s absence, i’m in the fortunate position of having two top strikers," said heynckes. Gomez, however, also attested to "a goal quota like perhaps gerd muller in the past".
Both teams thrive on high percentages of possession, both on outstanding individual skill, both on dominance – and neither will want to show it in the sold-out 68,000-seat allianz arena. "Bavaria must remain true to its style. We have never cared which opponent we meet. We wanted to play our style the way we know how," javi martinez stressed before the duel against his compatriots.