Barcelona – Just one game separates FC Bayern Munich from a third UEFA Champions League final appearance in four years when they take on FC Barcelona in their semi-final second leg at the Camp Nou this evening(kick-off 20.45 CET).

The Bavarians have the apparent comfort of a four-goal cushion after the 4-0 thrashing of the Catalans in last week’s first leg. However, the cauldron-like atmosphere of the hosts' home stadium, and opponents on the rebound from their heaviest European defeat for 16 years must yet be overcome before the Reds can book their Wembley date with domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund on 25 May. “Nothing is decided yet,” declared Bastian Schweinsteiger at the pre-match press conference.

Four-year plan


As it happens, the sides' previous meeting at the Camp Nou in April 2009 ended 4-0 in Barcelona's favour, with all the goals coming in the first half. Schweinsteiger is not anticipating any repeat of that this time around, however, pointing out that, “You can’t compare the situation now to then. Only Franck [Ribery] and myself are left from the team who started that game then, and we're stronger all-round now."

Indeed they are. Jupp Heynckes’ men have found the net in every away game in the Champions League this season and know a single goal in Barcelona will leave their hosts needing to score six.

Barca still believe


Barcelona are down, but not out for the count yet. With a 96,000-strong crowd behind them, Tito Vilanova’s side still believe in an historic comeback, or remontada, the phrase on Spanish lips at present. And they will have, to many peoples’ minds, the world’s best player in tow. Lionel Messi was completely shackled by Bayern’s defensive tenacity in the Allianz Arena, but he starred for the Catalans in their 2-2 draw with Athletic Bilbao at the weekend.

Thomas Müller, for one, is warning of a different beast this time around. “Messi is the fulcrum of the team. If you score 50-odd goals every season, then a team will depend on you. In the first leg we did a good job limiting their chances, but I think we’ll see a different Barca and a different Messi this time,” said the 23-year-old.

Final in sight


There is no doubt that die Münchner will be in for an incredibly tough evening, and nobody at the club is assuming the final has already been reached. Yet there is a hunger to succeed inherent in this Bayern squad, nurtured over an incredible season so far, motivated by the prospect of an historic treble and, who could forget, built on the desire to erase the heartbreak of last season’s final defeat to Chelsea. on home turf.

Schweinsteiger is one of six players currently just one yellow card away from suspension for the final, an unimaginable fate for the man who missed the decisive penalty against Chelsea. It won’t be that thought going through his head, though. Instead his focus is on the team, and achieving something remarkable. “We’ve only opened the door,” said the 28-year-old.“We haven’t walked through it yet.”

Possible line-ups:

Barcelona: Victor Valdes - Dani Alves, Bartra, Pique, Alba - Xavi, Busquets, Iniesta - Villa, Messi, Pedro

FC Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Martinez, Schweinsteiger - Robben, Müller, Ribery - Mandzukic

Bernie Reeves