Guardiola returning to Barcelona at the wrong time


Pep Guardiola must wish that he could have timed his return to Barcelona better because Bayern Munchen will not be close to full strength for its UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg against the world’s most in-form football team.

Guardiola has been unable to field Bayern Munchen’s premier side for several weeks and, even though he was able to rest many of his team’s star players on Saturday – Bayern lost 0-2 at Leverkusen, a result into which one is not reading anything – Holger Badstuber, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben are just three of the men unavailable to their manager.

Real Madrid bloodied Bayern Munchen’s nose at the semi-final stage of last season’s UEFA Champions League and one thinks that Barcelona is likely to emulate the feat of its Clasico rival in the last four of this term’s tournament. Barcelona is performing at the peak of its powers, whereas Bayern Munchen is not playing as well as it did a few months ago.

Barcelona has won 15 and drawn one of its last 16 matches across all competitions, including five consecutive wins coupled with clean sheets over the past two and a half weeks. And it is not as though Barcelona has been playing a bunch of mugs during its 16-game unbeaten run – Barca’s fixtures have included testing home matches versus Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Valencia and tough away assignments against Manchester City, Sevilla and Villarreal.

Bayern Munchen may not have been 100 per cent off in its German Bundesliga game at Leverkusen but Bayern were trying their utmost when Dortmund visited the Allianz Arena in the German DFB Pokal semi-final and they came up short, losing 0-2 on penalty kicks after both normal time and extra time ended 1-1. Bayern Munchen received considerable credit for its 6-1 UEFA Champions League quarter-final second-leg win over Porto but one would argue that Bayern have not scaled close to those heights in any of their other recent matches.

Several bookmakers, including Bet365, Betfred and Coral, are offering odds of -137 about Barcelona beating Bayern Munchen in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg. Barcelona at -137 is a no-brainer given its frightening form and Bayern Munchen’s issues. And one is keen to really get with Barcelona because one thinks that Bayern Munchen may crumble at the Camp Nou. Barcelona is scoring goals for fun and Bayern Munchen’s scars from its UEFA Champions League disaster versus Real Madrid 12 months ago may open up again if Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez hit the back of the net early on. Barcelona is available at odds of +188 with PaddyPower to defeat Bayern Munchen by more than one goal and take a healthy advantage to Germany.

Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg sees Juventus host Real Madrid and one thinks that the value is the draw, which is the outsider at odds of +230 with Bwin.

At first glance, the home record of Juventus is excellent but one feels that Juve has not been totally convincing in their most difficult home games, including a 0-0 draw versus Atletico Madrid that followed a 0-1 loss to Diego Simeone’s side at the Vicente Calderon. Furthermore, one thinks that Juventus has had a softer route to the UEFA Champions League last four than Real Madrid and that Juve’s domestic event is not of the same class as the Spanish Primera Division.

Winning on the road in the UEFA Champions League is not easy at stage in the tournament, let alone the semi-finals, so one is reluctant to tip Real Madrid so the draw stands out as representing the best way to get on Tuesday’s match.

Tips Summary

Barcelona to beat Bayern (-1 goal)
6th May 19:45 GMT
Odds:  -137  / +188
Where to Bet: Bet365, Betfred, CoralPaddyPower

Juventus v Real Madrid to draw
5th May 19:45 GMT
Odds:  +230
Where to Bet: Bwin

Arjen Robben
Bayern Munchen
Franck Ribery
Holger Badstuber
Pep Guardiola
Real Madrid
UEFA Champions League

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