Bayern Munich will be able to look to Robert Lewandowski (l.) for UEFA Champions League inspiration when they meet a Barcelona side coming to terms with life after Lionel Messi (r.). - © RAFAEL MARCHANTE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Bayern Munich will be able to look to Robert Lewandowski (l.) for UEFA Champions League inspiration when they meet a Barcelona side coming to terms with life after Lionel Messi (r.). - © RAFAEL MARCHANTE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

5 reasons Bayern Munich will beat Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League

THAT 8-2 win, THAT Alphonso Davies assist, and the might of both Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer are just some of the reasons why Bayern Munich have the edge heading into their UEFA Champions League clash with Barcelona.

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1) Bayern have their talisman

For over a decade, any discussion over the planet's greatest footballer would inevitably have included Lionel Messi. Such has been the Argentinian's impact on the world game, only on rare occasions has any other footballer been able to hold a candle to his talent. It goes without saying, therefore, that Barcelona built their team around one of the greatest players ever to have graced the football stage, and this summer saw one of the most painful separations in sporting history.

Messi's move to Paris Saint-Germain ripped the heart right out of Barca, at a time when Bayern's is beating stronger than ever, in the form of only the third man after Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric to deprive Messi of the world's best player award in over 11 years: Lewandowski.

Watch: All of Lewandowski's 41 Bundesliga goals in 2020/21

Bayern continue to build around their talisman, as Barcelona have just lost theirs. And while the Catalan club said farewell to a player whose goalscoring achievements may never be matched, Bayern are enjoying historic returns from a man who just recently smashed a record deemed unbeatable – until last May.

With 41 goals, Lewandowski broke the great Gerd Müller's single-season Bundesliga scoring record which had stood for 49 years. That is most certainly not the first and likely it will not be the last record Lewandowski will break. In fact, he's recently claimed another from Der Bomber by surpassing his club-best run of scoring in 15 straight appearances in all competitions. Lewy has now done 17 in a row after his goal against RB Leipzig at the weekend.

With Bayern benefitting from a player in the form of his life and Barcelona bereft of their goalscoring guarantee of the past 17 years, the German champions already boast a huge advantage pre-match.

2) History backs Bayern, especially against Koeman

A two-time UEFA European Cup winner as a player and a shoe-in for any all-time XI in Europe's premier continental club competition, Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has met Bayern twice as a player and two more times as a coach, without ever tasting success.

In his playing days, Koeman's PSV Eindhoven were dumped out of the European Cup in 1986/87 courtesy of a 2-0 defeat in the Netherlands and goalless draw in Germany as Bayern went all the way to the final before succumbing to Porto in the showpiece. It would be 18 years until Koeman and Bayern met again, with the record Bundesliga champions taking a 2-2 draw from Ajax in the group stages of the 2004/05 edition of the Champions League before a Roy Makaay hat-trick tormented his countrymen in a 4-0 win for the Bavarians in the return fixture.

Dutchman Roy Makaay haunted compatriot Ronald Koeman when Bayern Munich dismantled the now Barcelona coach's Ajax team in 2004. - Stuart Franklin/Getty Images

Bayern's overall record against Barca also sits in the German team's favour, with the Munich outfit leading the overall head-to-head record with seven wins to the Catalans' two, as well as two draws.

Bayern also beat their Spanish opponents in their previous meeting at the Allianz Arena - a 3-2 victory in the 2014/15 semi-finals. History is therefore very much on the side of Bayern, who have been champions of Europe six times compared to Barca's five, and will be keen to keep the upper hand over their rivals this week.

3) We 8-2 do this Barca fans, but...

Bayern's dominance in this fixture has never been more evident than their jaw-dropping 8-2 win the last time these two giants of the European game met. It is not very often you put eight goals past any opponents, but when those opponents are Barcelona, doing that becomes a once-in-a-lifetime achievement.

Bayern became the first team ever to score eight goals in a single European knockout stage fixture, contributing to a competition record of 3.91 goals per game over the campaign, when they gave the Catalans a lesson they will never forget in the quarter-finals of the 2019/20 edition of the Champions League.

Lionel Messi (c.) and his Barcelona side were obliterated by Bayern Munich in the 2019/20 quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. - MANU FERNANDEZ/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

If it could be of any consolation for Barca, the match was a single-leg tie played behind closed doors because of Covid-19, though the eyes of millions were watching on their televisions, and few will forget that mauling.

Thomas Müller opened the scoring in Lisbon and while David Alaba did Barca a favour with an own goal, further strikes from Ivan Perisic, Serge Gnabry and Müller gave Bayern a commanding 4-1 half-time lead. The second period mirrored its predecessor's scoreline, with Joshua Kimmich, Lewandowski and Philippe Coutinho (2) – who is now back on the Barcelona books – completing that earth-shattering victory for Hansi Flick's men.

4) Davies the tormentor

"Unbelievable," said Kimmich after scoring the fifth in that 8-2 win just over a year ago, but he wasn't talking about either his tap-in or the result. He was heralding the incredible work of teammate Davies who had just served up the assist of the century. "I was almost ashamed of how happy I was after scoring, because it was obviously 99 percent his goal."

It's a remarkable thing to feel any sort of shame scoring against one of the most successful clubs in history, but one can see Kimmich's point. He need only arrive at the right time and tap home, such was the excellence of Davies. Bayern's Roadrunner Canada international was at his edge-of-your-seat best as he collected the ball on Bayern's left, just inside the Barcelona half, before breezing past Messi and Arturo Vidal.

The best was yet to come, unless your name is Nelson Semedo. The Portuguese right-back was dumfounded by his 19-year-old counterpart, Davies feinting this way and that before blitzing beyond his man, leaving Gerard Pique rooted to the turf and Clement Lenglet clueless to the situation before laying it on a plate for Kimmich to finish the job.

It is a moment that will live long in the history of Champions League folklore and will surely be burned in the memory of Barcelona's defenders. Semedo has since departed the club, and with his USA international replacement Sergino Dest facing a race against time to be fit for the fixture, it could fall on Sergi Roberto to fill in at right-back. Considering how Davies tormented out-and-out right-sider Semedo last time around, an inexperienced Dest and makeshift Roberto could be in for a torrid evening.

5) Neuer the nemesis

Had Marc-Andre ter Stegen been born in almost any other generation, he would have been an undisputed first choice goalkeeper for Germany. As it is, the Barcelona No1 had the misfortune of growing up in the same era as a certain Neuer, still the undisputed No1 choice for Die Mannschaft.

Unfortunately for ter Stegen, whose shot-stopping skills and ability with his feet would see him walk into the goal of any other country on the planet, he has the world's undisputed modern goalkeeping pioneer not only blocking shots left, right and centre, but also obstructing his dreams of becoming Germany's first-choice goalkeeper.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen (r.) may be one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, but he still plays second fiddle to arguably the best to ever do it - Manuel Neuer (l.). - INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

With nine Bundesliga titles, six DFB Cups, a FIFA World Cup and two Champions Leagues, Neuer's quality is also backed up by silverware. While ter Stegen did get his hands on the Champions League in 2015, he has found Neuer a nemesis both on the domestic and European stage. Bundesliga glory with Borussia Mönchengladbach was a mirage with Neuer and Bayern simply too strong in Germany, but he has since won LaLiga four times with Barca.

With Flick benefitting from Neuer's solidity and winning two straight Bundesliga titles, he would be a fool not to continue to count on him since becoming head coach of Germany in the summer, and Neuer – although six years ter Stegen's senior – does not appear to have any intention of stepping aside soon, as he continues to set the goalkeeping benchmark.