Pep Guardiola returns 'home' as Barcelona take on Bayern Munich in semis
Barcelona, May 5 (IANS)
There is a Spanish word 'Morbo' which is almost impossible to translate into English. Nevertheless 'morbo' will be very much in evidence when FC Barcelona entertain Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night.
The best definition of 'morbo' is perhaps a 'morbid fascination' for something, the possibility or near certainty of controversy happening, of the need to stay fixed to your TV screen because something is certainly going to happen.
For many reasons the Barcelona-Bayern tie guarantees that: Not only could the game see brothers Rafinha and Thiago Alcantara go head to head against each other at some stage, but more than anything it sees the return of Barcelona hero Pep Guardiola to the Camp Nou Stadium but this time as a rival to his former club.
As a player, Guardiola won six league titles, the Kings Cup on two occasions, as well as the Champions League and the Cup Winners Cup.
His four years as a coach were the most successful in Barcelona's history as he led them to an incredible 14 pieces of silverware, including three league titles and the Champions League on two occasions.
Not only was he successful as a coach, but he was the mentor to many players in the Barcelona squad, such as Sergio Busquets and Lionel Messi. And it will be interesting to see how his former players react to seeing him on the opposition bench.
Perhaps in order to avoid distractions, the club has announced there will be no official ceremony to commemorate Guardiola's return.
But the duel between him and Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, who was the Catalans' B-team coach during Guardiola's four glorious years, is a sideshow that invites comparisons both would probably prefer to avoid.
Barcelona have all of their players available for the game. Enrique will field his strongest side with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar looking to continue their almost telepathic understanding in attack.
Bayern, meanwhile, have players such as Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery out injured, while striker Robert Lewandowski will play wearing a protective face mask.
Their side will continue former Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso, who will take on the role of pantomime villain alongside former Barcelona youngster Thiago and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Both sides favour a passing style. So, the game at times could resemble a game of chess played out on a football field, but with the added attraction of Guardiola and 'morbo'.