Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by messixaviesta on Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:19 pm

@free_cat wrote:How predictable. Screw this, like always for us the most difficult and Madrid the easiest.

At least we are  going to watch the best football in the world, even history, in this games. It will be a show of attacking football and at least 3 goals per game.

True. Both sides only want to ATTACK. It's a feast for the neutral.




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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by messixaviesta on Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:25 pm

@BarrileteCosmico wrote: Neither team's football is as good as 2011 Barça's. Both them and us have been becoming more counter focused over this season. I think the football might be less good than you would think just looking at the teams on paper.

I originally reacted to this with apprehension (you could say bayern/Germany have left me scarred over recent years...) but now I really want us to take this opportunity and have a full fledged revenge. I want us to score the tie winner and injury time.

Yes neither team's football is as good as 2011 Barca's but then we may not see that kind of 'PepMessiXavIesta' football ever again in our lives. While saying this I feel the pain of that as much as anyone and that's largely the reason for my falling interest in the game and very rare visits to this forum.

Perhaps neither team is as strong as 2013's Bayern either.

With my interest in the game having lowered considerably if there could be a tie to captivate me completely it would have to be this. In today's football it probably cannot get better than this.

I have never felt any need for revenge against Bayern, maybe just because their conduct towards us ever since has been so classy. I would take a comfortable victory over a tense last minute finish. I do enjoy tense last minute finishes but only when I am a neutral. Smile

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by messixaviesta on Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:45 pm

So much has changed since I last visited this forum.

Then we were with difficulty the fourth best team in the world and our coach was called 'Scrubrique'.

Now we are once again being called the best team in the world and our coach could become a UCL winner, or at least a La Liga winner.

What changed? I have thought on this but then I haven't watched that much football this year. My feeling is that the answer to this question is 'Luis Suarez'. The minute he came in everything just magically fell into place. For once an expensive purchase at the expense of a high quality player like 'Alexis Sanchez' proved to be fully justified, so unlike what had happened with 'Zlatan Ibrahimovic' and 'Cesc Fabregas'. This guy is a maverick. Suarez is perhaps the biggest X factor in football.

MSN is considered the best in the world, perhaps followed by BBC. This season, or at least in the later part of it, 'Lionel Messi' has been extraordinary even by his standards. He seems to have magically given up his few weaknesses of the last few seasons and regained some of his erstwhile strengths fully. Now he does genuinely have a claim to be called the GOAT.

The one sad part is that the midfield is so far below the glory days. Xavi, now at the end of his career, can still have those minutes when he seems like the old Xavi but there is a limit on how much we can ask of him. Iniesta's form in the last two seasons has unfortunately fallen a lot. He should still have three years or so left at the top level but it doesn't look like that. Why? Is it because his injuries of the past are catching up with him leading to much lower stamina? Is it because the present playing system is not suited to his strengths? In this system the forwards run everything and the midfield is not much more than functional. Is he going through some unknown mental problem? It could be a combination of all this and more.

So with the forward line of all time excellence and a deteriorating midfield what was to be done. This is where I guess Luis Enrique has been most impressive. He has built a system that gives the best possible platform for this immensely gifted forward line while at the same time continuing to capitalize on Barca's traditional strengths - passing ability, movement on and off the ball, etc. So we are now at least partly a counter attacking team but we don't have the usual weaknesses associated with a counter attacking team. Our technical ability is still much higher than most teams who choose to play this way.

Has the defense improved? A little bit I guess. Pique has improved from last season. Mascherano may never be the most suitable for his position but on sheer heart and commitment he is the closest that we could have found for Puyol. Sometimes you can't help but admire this guy and how much a team needs guys like this who you know will walk on fire for the team's cause. Alves still does more than he is given credit for. Claudio Bravo's purchase was criticized but he's been more than decent. Hey did Zubizaretta actually manage to do a decent job just before getting fired???

What I have said all this while may not be very correct because it's based on limited observation and those who are following the game regularly would be able to answer these questions much better but just felt like sharing my thoughts on the forum after a long time.


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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by messixaviesta on Fri Apr 24, 2015 3:55 pm

Before the draw began bookies and football pundits alike were saying that Madrid is comfortably below Barca and Bayern. Unfortunately for all except the fans of Madrid and Juve, the best two teams meet before the final.

The bookies now give a very slight edge to Barca. Opinions among fans and experts seem very divided.

My personal take is that we look stronger. Can Bayern's defense stop MSN? It just doesn't seem like that. Bayern need 'Arjen Robben' to be fully fit and on top form to have anything that can match up to what MSN can do. Of course he will not do it alone but without him I don't think the rest can come anywhere near.

From what I have seen of Pep's Bayern over the last couple of years Robben is their outball. They play all this nice possession and suddenly break towards the opposition goal with Robben being the player who does this 90% of the times.

Their defense seems worse than ours which is so rare because any time any decent team faces Barca they feel that at least in defense they are better. Maybe it's not so this time.

Midfield is where it's really hard to say. At the moment neither seem to be special which could make them well matched.

I think this is the ultimate examination of Pep Guardiola and how high history will rate him as a coach. Too bad it is coming against us.

Facing your former team. Are they better or you made them better? Facing a team at least slightly better than yours on paper. Are you the master tactician who can make up for that deficit and more? On another day we could have been so behind Pep at such a time but this is just one of those occasions when we sit on the other side.

Our bane has been teams who sit back refusing to come out and play against us. This is not happening here. Here's a team that will want to attack as much as us and in fact try to have the ball as much as us and even beat us on possession. So aside from facing our dear former coach this is the kind of tie that Barca players dream of playing. We don't have to worry about the Bayern of 2013. The team we will face has nowhere near the physical intimidation that team had.

Are Bayern definitively better than us in any area of the pitch or any aspect of the game? Offhand I can't think of anything. Goalkeeper? Given Neuer's penchant for taking risks even that may be questionable. Coaching? Maybe but then Pep's made some mistakes and Luis is in the best form of his coaching career.

Thomas Muller for me is the most underrated player in the world who has a knack for making the difference in big matches but against a team that has MSN who collectively have probably every single thing a forward line could ever desire, outshining them is a huge ask. In the earlier post I forgot to mention one more point about why Suarez has transformed us so much. We finally have a TARGET MAN. So many times last season and before we just didn't have a forward to make the most of the box. Messi was too deep and the likes of Villa, Sanchez and Pedro too wide. Maybe more than anything that really is the reason for Barca's rise. We now know how to make the most of the opportunities in and around the box, unlike not so long ago.

I sign off with who ever thought one day Pep would have to face his very dear MESSI. That day is coming, two in fact. Smile

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by windkick on Fri Apr 24, 2015 4:44 pm

Robben and Ribery to return for both legs?

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by The Franchise on Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:10 pm

I am quietly optimistic. Why cant we win?

We will give them big problems on the counter attack, surely.

No Alaba for both legs? Thats a big plus. Surely without him Pep will have a serious question. With him, I am sure he would let him go like Marcelo does and give us big problems because nobody on our team will defend that flank. Without him, Bernat isnt that big a threat and will probably stay back in respect for the counter attack.

Robben will be back though, so that's a problem.

Anyway, more talk on the game closer to then.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by alexjanosik on Fri Apr 24, 2015 5:45 pm

jd,
Pep Guardiola is quite comfortably a better coach and tactician than Enrique.Not even a contest.
I am not too hopeful.
We defend with 7.Or 7 and a half if you include Neymar.He puts in the effort but it becomes a very lopsided structure.Guardiola is far too good a tactician to not take advantage.Expect the ball to be moved swiftly from side to side to take advantage.If Robben plays,its game over.Aint no way Alba can handle Robben,Lahm and Rafinha down that flank.I am expecting Bayern's midfield to be Alonso,Lahm and Thiago.It will also be painful to watch Thiago dominate the midfield against us.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by windkick on Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:03 pm

Yea, I agree. Would be painful to see Thiago dominate us and Pep celebrating it. Ugh.......

I don't have allot of faith that we can stop Bayern. I also believe we match up better with Real Madrid than what Bayern do. So pretty much Real Madrid are going to repeat as far as I see it.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by BarrileteCosmico on Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:22 pm

I can't see any situation in which they manage to keep us from scoring. The tie is wide open. I don't get the skepticism, yes they might be better at the collective play but that by itself is not enough to win against us. Especially at home.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by messixaviesta on Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:29 pm

@alexjanosik wrote:jd,
Pep Guardiola is quite comfortably a better coach and tactician than Enrique.Not even a contest.
I am not too hopeful.
We defend with 7.Or 7 and a half if you include Neymar.He puts in the effort but it becomes a very lopsided structure.Guardiola is far too good a tactician to not take advantage.Expect the ball to be moved swiftly from side to side to take advantage.If Robben plays,its game over.Aint no way Alba can handle Robben,Lahm and Rafinha down that flank.I am expecting Bayern's midfield to be Alonso,Lahm and Thiago.It will also be painful to watch Thiago dominate the midfield against us.

alex, no denying Pep is superior. I am also concerned about Alba handling their attackers but then I feel it should be even harder for their defense to handle MSN. Robben is someone I think very highly of as I have said several times before but he would be coming off an injury. Would he really be at his best? He is 30+ after all. Even if he is, there is no one on earth today (and maybe many years before as well) who can match up to Messi. He can do things other players can't even dream of. So Pep will have to have some of his players focus on Messi. If he does not do this Messi could run away with the game. If he does then it will give Neymar and Suarez freedom. You are a long time admirer of Suarez while I have begun to admire his ability more and more in the last couple of years and more. He is a maverick. It's so hard for a coach to prepare for what he could possibly do. The third member of the trio Neymar is special in his own way. What do Bayern have to match with this? Robben will have to be at his absolute best. Muller can do great things as I have said before. Even with them and the third member being Ribery or Gotze, they don't seem to be matching up to our MSN.

Thiago has surprised me. Such a talented player whose career seems in perpetual danger due to his being so injury prone. I didn't expect him to play so well immediately after returning from injury. However he has since his return not faced a top quality team. It's a big test for him. Having said that they may be a little better in midfield. The days of Xaviesta are unfortunately over and we may pay for the blunder of selling Thiago. Considering that we sold Fabregas the very next summer, it seems all the more stupid that we sold Thiago. If Thiago stars against us then he would have written his name in history. For more than one reason I hope that doesn't happen.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by messixaviesta on Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:36 pm

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:I can't see any situation in which they manage to keep us from scoring. The tie is wide open. I don't get the skepticism, yes they might be better at the collective play but that by itself is not enough to win against us. Especially at home.


Agreed. Bayern have a weak defense and Barca have MSN.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by messixaviesta on Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:49 pm

Of course I am a huge admirer of Pep but he can at times go overboard with tactics such as against Madrid last year. He knows he has a weak defense but what will he do to make up for it? He will still want to play the way he wants to play and with a high line. That could be suicidal against MSN. If Porto could score 3 against them at home why can't MSN score 30! Smile

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by Great Leader Sprucenuce on Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:10 pm

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:I can't see any situation in which they manage to keep us from scoring. The tie is wide open. I don't get the skepticism, yes they might be better at the collective play but that by itself is not enough to win against us. Especially at home.


On the other hand though, they will have the majority of the ball and can really stop them turning that possession into chances?

I have my doubts tbh, if you can limit the amount of chances they are able to create then sure but i'm not sure i believe that.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by El Messico on Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:43 pm

I really think Barca are favorites for this one, but I suppose the game will depend on Pep's midfield choices. Alonso and Schweinsteiger should be a big no-no, but Martinez's return pending fitness will be a big boost. Something like Thiago-Lahm-Gotze will be suicidal. With Messi increasingly dropping into central midfield and (hopefully) providing more defensive cover in big games, the possession battle will be very closely fought.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if Lucho starts Mascherano and Busquets together in midfield at the Allianz and how Suarez will attack Boateng and Benatia.

All in all, here's hoping to a Barca-Juve final, I'm tired of the same matchups every year.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by windkick on Fri Apr 24, 2015 10:16 pm

If he starts Busquets and Masch in midfield at the Allianz we might as well not even show up.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by Vicious Culé on Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:29 am

Hopefully Pep will go in to win possession and start with a high line, preferably with Dante in the heart of the defence :whistle:

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by BarrileteCosmico on Sat Apr 25, 2015 3:54 am

@El Messico wrote:I really think Barca are favorites for this one, but I suppose the game will depend on Pep's midfield choices. Alonso and Schweinsteiger should be a big no-no, but Martinez's return pending fitness will be a big boost. Something like Thiago-Lahm-Gotze will be suicidal. With Messi increasingly dropping into central midfield and (hopefully) providing more defensive cover in big games, the possession battle will be very closely fought.
I haven't watched much Bayern recently, but does Lahm even play in the midfield anymore? The comments in the general section by Bayern fans give the impression that they think he will play as a full back.

Alonso has no place in a CL semi anymore, other than to score free kicks and get yellows. Hope he starts.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by BarrileteCosmico on Sat Apr 25, 2015 3:54 am

@Vicious Culé wrote:Hopefully Pep will go in to win possession and start with a high line, preferably with Dante in the heart of the defence :whistle:

Hard to see any scenario in which Pep does not go in to win possession

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by Winter is Coming on Sat Apr 25, 2015 4:44 am

@BarrileteCosmico wrote:
@El Messico wrote:I really think Barca are favorites for this one, but I suppose the game will depend on Pep's midfield choices. Alonso and Schweinsteiger should be a big no-no, but Martinez's return pending fitness will be a big boost. Something like Thiago-Lahm-Gotze will be suicidal. With Messi increasingly dropping into central midfield and (hopefully) providing more defensive cover in big games, the possession battle will be very closely fought.
I haven't watched much Bayern recently, but does Lahm even play in the midfield anymore? The comments in the general section by Bayern fans give the impression that they think he will play as a full back.

Alonso has no place in a CL semi anymore, other than to score free kicks and get yellows. Hope he starts.


He played in mid in Porto game. I think it depends on injury if Thiago/Schweni stay fit with Alonso/Gotze/Martinez he'll still as a RB.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by Winter is Coming on Wed Apr 29, 2015 12:13 am

Robben will be out banana

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by Deja Vu on Wed Apr 29, 2015 12:55 am

With or without Robben we should hammer them. I don't see how this Bayern team can get out of Camp Nou with a respectable result.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by windkick on Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:38 am

I still believe they are favorites, not by much but they are

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by neuro11 on Wed Apr 29, 2015 6:27 am

@deja-vu, you are ignoring our midfield problem which are not exposed vs. getafe or teams like that. But both valencia and sevilla gave us a strong shake at home and away. And they are a level below than Bayern. Bayern are able to play possession as well as at a treamendous speed with or without robben/ribbery.
Any of our midfielders (assuming Xavi wont start) other than Busq. find it difficult to hold possession and circulate pass forward under pressure

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by Footyfan on Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:51 am

Lewa has a concussion too so he could be out as well. Ribery is not coming back soon in all probability. So we will have Muller & Floptze as out only 2 attackers if you don't consider Claudio Fossilized Pizarro.

We have a very good defense IMO with Benatia coming back and forming a good partnership with Boateng. Bernat has been our best player this season and would start over Alaba next season probably given how great he is.

I still expect Lahm who is playing midfield this season to slot back into RWB with a Alonso, Schweni, Thiago midfield with 2 attackers upfront. I expect us to play a defensive 3-5-2 similar to what we did against Dortmund with Rafinha, Rode or Javi playing the libero/advanced CB.

We really don't have the firepower upfront to give you guys a huge headache. Either of your front 3 will possibly score at some time and it will be difficult for us to match you guys goals wise.

Cheers & Best of luck, you guys are huge favourites with 3 of the greatest Attackers in Football today although personally bar the DM position, I don't rate your defense or midfield very highly. But we have nothing really to remotely match upto this devastating trio upfront of yours.

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by free_cat on Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:01 am

It's a pity Robben is not there, but a big adavantadge to us. I wonder if Pep rushed him in. Seems to be a trend in Bayern this season to rush back players in (Benatia, Robben..) but now the doctors cannot be blamed.

We have a chance, let's take it!

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Re: Champion League Semi-Final Opponents

Post by billy_gr on Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:37 am

we seem to be in better form.
Let's make it count
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