Barcelona back themselves against Bayern despite nervy path to quarters

Reuters , Sunday 9 Aug 2020

Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 Second Leg - FC Barcelona v Napoli - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - August 8, 2020 Barcelona's Lionel Messi celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) (REUTERS)

Barcelona insist they have as much chance as Bayern Munich of winning their Champions League quarter-final despite a far from convincing 3-1 win over Napoli on Saturday.

First-half goals from Clement Lenglet, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez sent Barca on their way into the ‘Final Eight’ tournament in Lisbon where they will face the German champions, who crushed Chelsea 4-1 for a 7-1 aggregate win in their last 16 second leg.

Barca’s 4-1 aggregate win over Napoli may have looked resounding on the scoresheet but was anything but, as Gennaro Gattuso’s Italian side dominated the second half after Lorenzo Insigne scored at the end of the first.

Still, Barca coach Quique Setien said his side should not be underestimated against Bayern, who swept to a domestic double this season in contrast to the Catalans losing out on the Spanish title and failing to win any other silverware.

“It will be tough for us because they’ve had an excellent season and dominated their tie. It will be difficult for us but also for them. They are an excellent team, but so are we,” Setien told a news conference.

Barca striker Luis Suarez added: “In a one-off game anyone has a chance, so it’s perfectly balanced, 50/50. Bayern are a great team, one of the candidates to win the competition, but it’s 11 versus 11 over 90 minutes.”

Barca beat Bayern in the semi-finals in 2015, the last year they won the competition, which avenged a 7-0 thrashing on aggregate at the hands of the Germans in the last four in 2013.

The Catalans have been haunted in the last two years of the Champions League by their inability to see out comfortable first leg results, surrendering a 4-1 lead over AS Roma in 2018 and a 3-0 advantage over Liverpool last year.

Midfielder Sergi Roberto said the fact that ties will be played over one match rather than two, due to the competition being rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, means form will count for less.

“Every game is its own different world and that is true now more than ever. There are no favourites in this Champions League, anyone can win or lose a one-off game,” he said.

“Every match will feel like a final so we are going to have to be very concentrated.”

Former Bayern great Lothar Matthaeus, however, was less complimentary of Barcelona, saying the German champions were the overwhelming favourites to win next Friday’s clash.

“Naturally Barcelona have enough quality to produce the best of themselves in one game, but I think Bayern will have to make many mistakes and do many things wrong to lose against this Barcelona,” he told Sky Sport Germany.

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