FC Barcelona will have to produce one of the all-time European comebacks against Bayern Munich on Wednesday if they are to advance to the final of the Champions League next month. The German outfit secured a 4-0 win in the first leg last week, meaning that an away goal for Bayern would leave Barcelona needing to score six times at Camp Nou on May 1. However, Barcelona will take heart from the last time they welcomed Bayern to this stadium in April 2009, with a double from Lionel Messi enough to secure a 4-0 win over their German opponents. That score this time around would take the semi-final clash into extra time.
Sergio Busquets was not fully fit in the first leg of the semi-final and it certainly showed. The Spanish international is again a doubt for the second leg as he tries to overcome a groin strain.
Javier Mascherano, though, is a bigger doubt, and Tito Vilanova will have to take a decision on whether to risk the Argentine against Bayern, with the Spanish club short on defenders.
If Mascherano is not passed fit, Adriano, who was suspended for the first leg, is likely to partner Gerard Pique, with Marc Bartra struggling to cope with the physical and technical prowess of the Bavarians. However, with Jordi Alba suspended, Adriano might be needed at fullback, although Eric Abidal is also an option.
One bright spot for Barca, however - and it is a huge bright spot - was the form shown by Messi in the La Liga game against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend. The Argentine came on as a second half substitute and turned the game in Barca's favor, scoring a goal as well as assisting in one.
Messi looked lost out there at the Allianz Arena in the first leg, clearly struggling for fitness. The Barcelona superstar could not go on a single one of those trademark mazy runs, as the Bayern defense was left largely untroubled, with Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez also having disappointing games.
Bayern will be a little worried about the six players -- Philipp Lahm, Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dante, Luiz Gustavo and Mario Gomez - who face suspension from the final if they pick up a yellow card, although Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes insisted he would not be taking that into account when naming the final XI for Wednesday.
Heynckes will also have Mario Mandzukic back available after serving his one-match suspension.
FC Barcelona: D/W/W/W/D/W
Bayern Münich: W/W/W/W/W/W
FC Barcelona: Valdes (GK); Alves, Pique, Puyol, Alba; Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta; Sanchez, Messi, Pedro
Bayern Münich: Neuer (GK); Lahm, Dante, Boateng, Alaba; Martinez, Schweinsteiger; Robben, Muller, Ribery; Mandzukic
FC Barcelona To Win: 5/6
Bayern Münich To Win: 38/11
Germany (B5 Plus, 90elf, NDR Info Spezial, ZDF Zatoo, MDR Info, B5 aktuell, ZDF Sport, ZDF, Sky Sport 1, WDR Event, ZDF Sport Extra, Sky Go, Sky Sport 1 HD, NDR 2, TeleClub Sport, Hr Info, SWRinfo)
Spain (Canal+Yomvi, C+ Liga de Campeones/HD)
United Kingdom (Sky Sports Events Centre, Sky Sports 1 Ireland, Sky Sports 1/HD, Sky Go)
United States (SiriusXM FC, AFN Sports, Fox Soccer 2Go, FOX Deportes, FX Channel)
Stadium: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
Kick-off: 1145 am PST, 245 pm EST, 745 pm BST, 845 pm CET
Check local times here: http://www.livesoccertv.com/match/754783/barcelona-vs-bayern-m-nchen/
For all you Barcelona fans, better be praying that the Pope is praying. Barcelona is going to need one heck of a comeback. Not saying it's impossible, but it'll be tough. Bayern will have to have those players yellow carded in order for Barcelona to have the advantage. Well, besides playing at home.
Barcelona 4-0 Bayern Münich
Make your predictions in the comments below. Will Barcelona have their glorious comeback? Think before you type. This is Champions League. Anything can happen.