In just a few short hours, Bayern Munich will host FC Barcelona in one of the most highly anticipated Champion's League matches to date. With such a tense aura building up around the Allianz Arena since the Bavarian's 3-0 defeat in Spain, it may come as no surprise that Pep's chances of sealing a spot in Berlin and his future in Germany are being questioned. Regardless of what Guardiola’s inevitable prospect holds for him, the only concern he needs to have is whether he can manage a miraculous comeback in this Tuesday’s second-leg.
Barcelona has been both the unstoppable force and the immovable object, inducing fear in every opponent that crosses their path. The blaugrana’s MSN have had a record-breaking run of goals, their defense has kept a jaw-dropping number of clean sheets, and the midfield is the superglue that holds it all together. Bayern, on the other hand, have been trampled by all recent competitors thanks to a gamut of injuries that can only be blamed on the mystical energy being emitted from the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. In other words, Bayern Munich are sinking faster than the Titanic and there’s very little they can do to stop it.
The Germans began taking on water two weeks ago when Borussia Dortmund humiliated Bayern in their DFB-Cup semi-final fiasco. After finishing a 120-minute one-to-one stalemate, the Bundesliga champions were forced into a penalty shootout. On any other day, this scenario would have favored the title holders. But as fate would have it, Bayern’s luck had finally come to a dead stop.
As Philipp Lahm made his run towards the penalty spot, his left foot slipped from under him as he took his strike. The ball took a wide right and completely avoided the netting behind Mitchell Langerak. After such a poor start to the shootout, one wouldn’t think that it could get much worse, but it did. As Xabi Alonso struck the ball with his right, the wet ground under his left gave way, causing the Spaniard to slip in what could only be described as a perfectly executed game of horse with Lahm. Minutes later, both Götze and Neuer had their shots blocked by the goalkeeper and the crossbar, respectively. The end of the match saw Dortmund on to the final, and Bayern’s nightmare coming to fruition. The soccer gods, once fans of the Bavarians, had obviously changed their allegiance.
In the next week and a half, the great Bayern Munich would go on to lose their next three consecutive matches, including last week’s 3-nil loss to Barcelona.
It would be very unlikely to see the German side reverse such as devastating first-leg loss, but miracles do happen. Unfortunately for Bayern, even that seems to be well beyond their reach.
Luis Enrique, a man highly criticized by everyone (including me) for his unBarça-like tactics, has breathed life back into this Catalan team. They are not only contenders for UEFA’s grand prize, but, by all accounts, the favorites to win it. It simply seems that Bayern Munich, and Pep Guardiola, will just have to be patient and wait their turn to be crowned Europe’s best.