The heartbreaking way in which they lost last season’s Champions League final has helped Bayern Munich steel themselves for this campaign, according to manager Jupp Heynckes.
Bayern face Barcelona tonight armed with a 4-0 semi-final first-leg advantage and are odds-on favourites to make the Wembley showpiece next month.
Doing so would be a remarkable achievement given how last year’s tournament ended up. Technically at home to Chelsea in a Munich final, Heynckes’ men were beaten on penalties as their dream fell apart around them.
Once the debris was swept up, however, Bayern were able to regroup and have marched their way back to the brink of European glory.
“When you experience a final like we did against Chelsea, then you understand all the consequences,” Heynckes said.
“Some clubs give up, but everyone at Bayern reacted in a very positive way.
“We made changes, signed good players, modified some things, and strengthened the team spirit.”
Regardless of Barcelona’s prowess and standing as the best team of their generation, Bayern are not expected to be overturned tonight.
For Heynckes, though, the challenge tonight is to prove that last week’s result in Bavaria was not a one-off.
“We have to take into account the rival. We have our philosophy on football and this season we have proved that Bayern is a great team playing top quality football.
“We have our culture and we are capable of scoring goals tomorrow at the Camp Nou,” he said.
“We can’t think too much about the first-leg result.
“After the match we can evaluate things, but I cannot say which team is the better one. Barcelona have played at such a high level for so many years. Bayern want to prove that the match in Munich wasn’t a one-off.”
For his part, Barcelona boss Tito Vilanova has backed Lionel Messi to “have things to say” tonight.
Vilanova said: “The more in form he is the better our chances of getting to the final, but we can’t heap this kind pressure on him, we have to try to help him.
“A player as good as Messi, at this point in the competition, will have things to say in tomorrow’s match.”
BARCELONA (probable): Valdes; Alves, Pique, Mascherano, Adriano; Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta; Pedro, Messi, Villa.
BAYERN MUNICH (probable): Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba; Martinez, Schweinsteiger; Robben, Muller, Ribery; Mandzukic.
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