UCL: Barca, Bayern, Real will be tough to conquer at home
We are down to the business end of the season with the quarterfinal draws for the Champions League out and the prospect of a Barca-Chelsea and Madrid-Bayern semi-final showdown very much in the offing. However, of the final eight teams standing in the CL this season, three teams clearly stand out – FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich. With all due respect to the other five teams, especially AC Milan and Chelsea, beating either one of the trio over two legs seems nearly impossible as of now unless they are pitted against each other. What makes them so hard to beat is not their away form but their inimitable home record this season in Europe. Let’s take a look at each of the three teams individually.
Just the idea of playing at the Camp Nou amidst 90,000 home supporters chanting the name of the champions can send shudders down anyone’s spine. FC Barcelona have not only been unbeaten but also have been ruthless at home this season both domestically and in Europe. The Catalans have only been held by AC Milan at the Camp Nou this season in an entertaining 2-2 draw in the group stage, however, it took the Italians two rare moments of magic from two Brazilians, Alexandre Pato and Thiago Silva in the first and last 30 seconds of the game two claim a valuable point. Such feats will be very tough to repeat given Barca’s invincibility at home. The best example would be the 7-1 annihilation of Bayer Leverkusen not so long ago in the second leg of the round of 16 on a historic night where Messi scored five goals.
Jose Mourinho has always declared that his teams perform much better in the second season of his reign. He kept those promises with Porto, Chelsea and Inter Milan and now seems to do the same with Real Madrid as well. Sitting pretty at the top of La Liga, a good 10 points ahead of FC Barcelona, and sprinting through the group stages to the round of 16 , Real Madrid look like a team possessed with boundless energy this time. They won all six out of six of their group stage games and were only held by CSKA Moscow with a 1-1 draw in Russia in the first leg of the round of 16, only because they had to play in subzero conditions in Russia with the temperature-scale reading -10 degrees Celsius on the night. Yet, they soothed the nerves of Los Merengues (Real Madrid fans) with a 4-1 thrashing of the hapless Russians in the return home fixture. Another interesting fact shows that apart from Barca, Madrid has scored atleast three goals against whoever they have faced at the Santiago Bernabeu this season in all competitions. It goes on to show that Los Blancos are a goal machine at home, except when they are playing Barca.
Not many fancy their chances of beating Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena. Even Guardiola’s Catalan magicians managed only a 1-1 draw the last time they played there. The German giants have been far from their best domestically, but they have been unconquerable in the CL, especially at home. They have scored 15 goals and conceded only three at the Allianz arena in the CL so far, indicating their home dominance. What will also be a motivating factor to go all the way to the final is that they are hosting the finals this season. Now the prospect of beating Bayern Munich at the Allianz arena in the Champions League final should rattle even the best of the best.