European Heavyweights Do Battle

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Frank Ribery was on the scoresheet against Hannover96 on the weekend. Image courtesy of
Bayern Munich  and Barcelona , arguably two of the best club teams in the world, meet in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final on Wednesday morning (AEST). Having already wrapped up the Bundesliga title with more than a month of the season remaining, Bayern warmed up for this clash with a 6-1 thumping of Hannover 96 on the weekend despite being without several first team players.

Phillip Lahm, Javi Martinez and Arjen Robben are all likely to be recalled to the starting XI after sitting out on the weekend, while Bastian Schweinsteiger should also feature after shaking off a minor ankle injury. Mario Mandzukic is nearing his return from a hamstring injury but could have his hands full regaining his starting spot up front with Mario Gomez having scored five goals in less than 90 minutes of action during the week.

Barcelona left it late to beat Levante 1-0  in La Liga on the weekend but will welcome superstar Lionel Messi back into the ranks for the trip to Germany after the Argentine was left out on the weekend with a thigh injury. Javier Mascherano and Carlos Puyol will miss the match through injury, while Brazilian defender Adriano is suspended and will miss what is his side’s sixth successive appearance in the final four of the Champions League.

Bayern has won 11 of its past 13 home games in this competition and has a strong record when welcoming Spanish opposition to their turf. They have won 14 and drawn five of 20 matches against La Liga clubs but Barca have an equally impressive record in Germany. They are on an eight game unbeaten run in Germany and were 3-1 victors at Bayern Leverkusen in the last 16 last season. These clubs met in the quarter-finals four seasons ago with the match at the Allianz Arena ending 1-1 .

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