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'Get on the front foot'

FCB fired up for semi-final challenge

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By any measure, Camp Nou is a magnificent sight. The steeply banked seating in the stands. The impression of hugeness. The famous catacombs. And so much more. Many FC Bayern players have already experienced it all - they are world champions and Champions League winners - but playing Barcelona at this famous stadium in the semi-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday (Live in English from 20:45 CET on Twitter and free Radio) is enough to give you goose bumps. “There’s huge anticipation,” said skipper Philipp Lahm ahead of the first leg, “it will be an absolute cracker.”

Barça against Bayern. There can hardly be a bigger game in European football. The Spanish league leaders against the German champions. “There are no favourites,” declared Thomas Müller before the team headed for Barcelona on Tuesday morning. The Reds completed the final pre-match training session at Camp Nou in warm conditions in the evening.

Lewandowski at final session

Pep Guardiola had his full squad on the training ground. The man in the mask Robert Lewandowski was there in spite of his facial injury. Speaking at the pre-match press conference, the FCB head coach did not reveal whether Bayern’s top striker would play on Wednesday. “I need eleven fully fit players,” said Guardiola, “I’ll talk to him after training. I want to know how he feels in the mask. He’ll play if he’s fit.”

Franck Ribéry (ankle), Arjen Robben (calf), Holger Badstuber (thigh), David Alaba (knee) and Sebastian Rode, who is struggling with a muscle injury, did not travel to Barcelona. Obviously, it is a problem not having these key players but nobody at FC Bayern wants to complain. The team that Guardiola sends out at Barcelona will still be too strong to justify that. “I’ve never moaned and I won’t start now. I can’t magic the injured players back to fitness,” added Guardiola.

'We’ve got to score'

In spite of the tricky personnel situation, Bayern are not prepared to “sit back” at Barcelona, as Manuel Neuer confidently announced: “We won’t park the bus and we want to show what we can do. We want to get on the front foot.” The clear aim is to get a result to take back to Munich. “We’ve got to score. It’s almost impossible to just defend here,” declared Guardiola. And Xabi Alonso said: “We’ll try to play our own game.”

There is still a lot of respect for Barça, who will have their best side out. “With such a wealth of talent it’s difficult to identify weak points,” added Guardiola, “you can never really work out what Messi and Neymar are doing. When you think they’re coming from the left, they end up coming from the right.” But Neuer believes Bayern have a lot of offer: “We’ll see two evenly balanced games. The team that’s better on the day will have the edge.”