Lionel Messi is desperate to win the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 2015 as he leads Barcelona’s charge against Bayern Munich today in Lisbon.
This will be Barcelona’s 13th successive Champions League quarter-final – a competition record but they meet a Bayern side that are unbeaten in all competitions since early December and will definitely find it difficult against Hansi Flick’s men.
Messi produced a brilliant individual goal during the second leg round of 16 match against Napoli to help Barcelona win 4-2 on aggregate while Bayern Munich destroyed Chelsea 7-1 on aggregate to set-up this epic clash.
Incredibly, Barcelona have only lost just two of their last 31 Champions League games and are unbeaten in their last six matches against German clubs since a second-leg defeat to Bayern in the semi-finals of the 2015 competition.
But one man, Barca must be wary of is Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 53 goals in 44 appearances in all competitions this season, including 13 in seven Champions League outings.
Barca will again be without Samuel Umtiti due to a knee injury, but Ousmane Dembele has returned to training following a long-term hamstring issue. The Catalans will also be boosted by the returns of midfielders Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal from suspension.
As for Bayern, experienced centre-back Jerome Boateng will allegedly overcome the knock that he picked up against Chelsea to start, while Kingsley Coman is expected to be available following a muscular problem.
Philippe Coutinho is available to face his parent club tonight, although it seems likely that the Brazil international will be named on the bench. Alphonso Davies should also start despite sitting out Wednesday’s training session with tight adductors.
These two teams have met on 10 previous occasions in European competition, and Bayern lead the head-to-head six wins to Barca’s two, with two draws also occurring.
Barca knocked Bayern out in the semi-finals of the 2014-15 competition before going on to win it, while the German giants beat the Spanish club in the semi-finals of the 2012-13 tournament en route to the trophy.
The La Liga giants also beat Bayern in the quarter-finals of the 2008-09 competition, but the German side have won their only two previous meetings in the group stages of the European Cup.
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, Vidal, De Jong; Suarez, Messi
Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Thiago, Goretzka; Coman, Muller, Gnabry; Lewandowski.
Referee: Damir Skomina. Assistant referees: Damir Skomina, Jure Praprotnik, Robert Vukan. Fourth official: Artur Dias. Video Assistant Referee: Massimiliano Irrati. Assistant VAR: Marco Guida
Prediction: Barcelona 1-2 Bayern