Public opinion split as Barça prepare to face Bayern in unusually unpredictable encounter

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La Liga Loca should probably be knocking out an article a good thousand words long, stuffed to the brim with tactical analysis, historical precedents and maybe the odd graph to try and predict how Barcelona will fare in Munich on Tuesday night. To be frank, that sounded like far too much hard work, and pretty much beyond the capabilities of this modest scribe.

Instead, LLL did detailed early morning research by chatting to punters in the local café and fruit market to catch a glimpse of the immediate future of football. Things got off to a bad start with the Atlético Madrid-supporting owner, when a semi-humourous suggestion his side would lose to Real Madrid on Saturday no matter what happened during the week, was met with a stern Paddington Bear look and nothing else. Fortunately, the coffee and toast had already been delivered to the table.

The gentleman who seems to be very successful at sports betting announced that Barcelona would draw or win against Bayern. A Barça supporter buying bananas felt the evening was going to go “very badly” for the Catalan club, while the Madridista fishmonger who never seems to sell any stinky fish predicted with some glee that Bayern Munich would win 4-0. The Rojiblanco fruit seller wouldn’t be drawn on the game, other than musing that it would be “difficult”, while lovingly fondling some plums. However, he did cheerfully predicted another defeat for his side in Saturday’s derby at the Vicente Calderón.

There seem to be mixed feelings in the Catalan capital, too, although there’s bravado to cover this up, with the front cover of Sport blasting “No fear and on the attack!” Inside the paper, Josep Maria Casanovas has gone back to the 1960s, Mad Men-style, with his hard-hitting editorial suggesting Tuesday’s game is for “real men, a clash between two high speed trains. Talent against physical power. Pride against ambition.”

"Whatever you do, don't mention Pep..."

There was also the warning that “it is forbidden to doubt a Barça side that has reached six semi-finals in a row”. The punishment for habouring such feelings was not mentioned, but it’s probably having to listen to the club’s anthem on a loop for five hours straight.

Mundo Deportivo are a little more laid back, and have a smiling Leo Messi on the front cover, a sign of both papers being certain that if the little Argentinean isn’t in form, it’s going to be a sticky battle in Bavaria. “Winning will not be easy,” writes Santi Nola in the paper, “for the first time in the past five years Barça will not be the media favourite in a match.”

The build-up to the match has seen German journos wind up Bayern Munich boss, Jupp Heynckes with continuing questions around whether the outgoing boss has been seeking advice from the incoming Pep Guardiola. “I know Barça as well as my own team,” fumed the exasperated German. “This felt disrespectful to Pep in his own relationship with Barça,” announced Heynckes on why the topic should never be brought up again.

Besides, it seems being disrespectful to Guardiola is the job reserved for Barcelona themselves, with the club’s mouthy spokesman Toni Freixa boasting on Friday that “Tito Vilanova is winning all comparisons with Guardiola, including as a person.” Miaow.

As a tiny bit of analysis is required in these circumstances, if Barça play at their very best, the tie can be wrapped up in Munich. 62% to 87% performance levels will see Barça coming back to the Camp Nou as favourites over all. Anything less would see a lot of hard work to be done next Wednesday in the Catalan capital. To be fair, which of these scenarios will unfold is anyone’s guess. Even if they are flogging fruit or fish.