Bayern Munich v Barcelona – Champions League preview and team news

The Allianz Arena plays host to the eagerly-awaited first leg of the Champions League semi final between Bayern Munich, finalists in both 2010 and 2012 and Barcelona, winners in 2006, 2009 and 2011.

Bayern have been absolutely imperious in their route to the last four, comfortably coming through their group, dispatching Arsenal in the last 16 despite a second-leg scare before impressively seeing off the previously-fancied Juventus with two comprehensive 2-0 victories in the last eight.

Indeed, such is their current form, which has seen them win a record 13 consecutive Budesliga matches and crowned the quickest champions in the history of the German top flight, Jupp Heynckes’ team are even being seen as the favourites heading into their side with Barcelona, who are in their sixth-consecutive Champions League semi-final.

Phillipe Lahm, Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger should all return to the Bayern starting XI after being rested for their 6-1 win over Hannover at the weekend but first-choice striker Mario Mandzukic is suspended, leaving Germany international Mario Gomez to step in.

Elsewhere, Toni Kroos and Holger Badstuber are still missing with groin and knee injuries respectively meaning that Arjen Robben and Daniel van Buyten will continue in their place.

For Barcelona, whose ex-manager Pep Guardiola will take charge at the Allianz Arena for the start of next season, all the pre-match speculation rests on the potential participation of star man Lionel Messi.

The Argentina international, who has scored eight times in the Champions League already this season, has not played since coming off the substitutes’ bench to help the Catalans see off Paris St-Germain in the last eight.

That appearance has been his only one since suffering a thigh injury in the first leg of that quarter final in Paris, though he has travelled to Germany and could be fit to play.

Tito Villanova’s men have a raft of problems at the back with Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano (both knee) as well as Adriano (suspension) missing, meaning that either youngster Marc Bartra, or defensive-midfielders Sergio Busquets or Alex Song will parter Gerard Pique in central-defence.

If one of those midfielders do drop back, Cesc Fabregas will drop back into midfield, with either Alexis Sanchez or David Villa leading the line should Messi only be fit enough for the bench.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Bayern Munich v Barcelona

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