BARCELONA, Spain, April 30 – Bayern Munich are anticipating Barcelona’s bid to overturn their 4-0 deficit to be led by an inspired Lionel Messi rather than the subdued version that turned up in last week’s semi-final, first leg.
Bayern take on the Catalan giants at the Camp Nou in Wednesday’s Champions League second leg with one foot in the final after the drubbing meted out to Messi and his men in Munich.
World Footballer of the year Messi produced an uncharacteristic limp performance in Munich, but Bayern striker Thomas Mueller believes the Argentine star will be back to his brilliant best on Wednesday.
“In the first leg we barely saw him,” reflected Mueller, who scored twice and set up a third in the surprisingly lopsided first leg.
“That was down to us even if we know he was limited with an injury.
“We are going to see another Messi on Wednesday, even if we hope we don’t. I think we’ll have more work to do with him than the last time.
“Messi is a talisman for them. He’s a player who scores 50 goals in the season.”
The Germans, intent on atoning for last year’s final defeat on home turf to Chelsea, are mindful of letting any hint of complacency scupper their attempt to make it to the Wembley climax.
“We opened the door (to the final) but we haven’t gone through it yet,” cautioned midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger at the eve-of-match press conference on Tuesday.
“It’ll be hard on Wednesday, few teams can offer resistance to Barcelona here,” he added.
“We know they’ve got a lot of pride and we have to be concentrated as we were in the first leg.”
Mueller suggested Barca would try to upset their visitors “with their ball possession”.
“We’ve got to defend well, and leave the ball far away from our goalkeeper.”
As for last week’s surprise result, Mueller maintained that Barcelona had not played as poorly as the scoreline suggested.
“They didn’t play a catastrophic match,” he reasoned.
“We made the difference physically and mentally. We exploited the set pieces, and our size. And it was thanks to our good defensive work that Barca had few chances.”
Mueller added that if anyone was in any doubt as to Barcelona’s aptitude as escapologists then they only had to look back on what happened in the round of 16.
Barca looked down and out after losing the first leg 2-0 to AC Milan but ultimately sailed through to the quarter finals with a Messi-inspired 4-0 second leg success.
“I watched that match live. We know Barcelona can cause us harm if we don’t turn up. We also saw that Milan had a great opportunity but they weren’t able to capitalise on it.”