By ADAM TROXTELL
There will be mixed emotions aplenty in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg, with Barcelona welcoming a familiar face back to the Camp Nou.
Pep Guardiola returns to the place where he won 14 titles for the Catalan giants, only this time it will be with Bayern Munich on the visitors’ bench. After sealing the Bundesliga title a few weeks ago, Bayern is looking to add a second European crown in three years to the trophy cabinet.
Robert Lewandowski is expected to return to boost those chances after suffering a fractured cheek bone against Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal last week. Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Holger Badstuber and David Alaba all remain out for the German champions.
Barcelona has less injury concerns, though defender Jeremy Mathieu will miss out due to a reported Achilles tendon problem. The Catalan side will otherwise look to inflict damage on its former boss with a fully fit squad.
Despite having the healthier squad, Barcelona will be wary of this meeting after what happened the last time. En route to the 2013 Champions League crown, Bayern dealt Barca its heaviest defeat in Europe, 7-0 on aggregate that included a 3-0 result at the Camp Nou.
Bayern is in the semifinal round of the Champions League for the fourth straight time, reaching the final in two of the previous three attempts. Barcelona’s streak of semifinal appearances ended at six last year when they fell to eventual finalists Atletico Madrid at the quarterfinal stage.
The teams enter this first leg off the back of different results. Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick and Lionel Messi netted twice in Barcelona’s 8-0 win against struggling Cordoba, and Bayern suffered a 2-0 defeat to Leverkusen while resting a few players.
My hats off to Lewandowski if he does actually play…All Bayern needs to do today is play Chelsea-ball and park the bus. A 0-0 tie would be a great result for Bayern.