Not just a ‘good enough to qualify’ result would be considered a success. Any win for Barcelona against a team that’s shaping out to be one of the more menacing Europe has seen in quite some time, it’s going to take more than Lionel Messi wonders. Andres Iniesta, demolished by Javi Martinez in that first leg, will have to be the best midfielder in the world for 90 minutes, something he’s capable of doing.
Two things worth remembering – No side have ever overturned a 4-0 deficit in the knockout stages of the Champions League, and Barcelona need to score at least 4 goals against a side that have conceded just twice in their last four Champions League away games and only 3 times on the road all season in the Bundesliga.
And yet, there has to belief at Barcelona that with two goals in the first half, things can happen. Bayern Munich won at Arsenal 3-1 but were lucky to come through after dropping 2-0 at home. Two immense performances are hard to pull off in the span of six days, but on the other hand they did beat Juve twice 2-0. Arsenal nearly came back from 4-0 against AC Milan, winning 3-0 at home and feeling a bit aggrieved by some refereeing decisions and their misses.
Andres Iniesta was positioned where Javi Martinez could chase him and simply crush him for 90 minutes. While Messi played like someone who is in complete pain from the first moment he stepped on the pitch, Iniesta felt the pain shortly after the beginning of the match. He saw no daylight and couldn’t create the spaces he usually does, as the physically superior Martinez did not let him get a second of breath or a chance to use his superior dribbling skills to make something happen for Barcelona.
Barca aren’t a team that reacts, most of the time. They have their gameplan, and they won’t be changing it no matter the rival and regardless of past results. A philosophy that has proved itself over the last five seasons, but special cases call for special solutions.
Tito Villanova is afraid of the Bayern full backs, so he wants Pedro and Alexis Sanchez on the wings in order to chase them, but that creates its own set of problems, leaving Messi too alone in the middle, while Iniesta looked a little bit out place in the middle of the pitch. Putting him in the front three should take him away from Martinez and face players (Philipp Lahm) he should have an easier time handling. Cesc Fabregas might not be having the best of seasons or stretches in it, but he’s more physically capable of handling the pressure Martinez will apply on him.
Signaling out individual players isn’t the answer, but it will take a special performance from quite a few of them, leading up to an overall massive one from the team itself, in order to make it even close to a comeback. While four goals (not to mention not conceding, which is a big problem for Barcelona as well) aren’t an impossible feat, the goal is to start with one, early, fast and swift, and carry on from there. Without Andres Iniesta playing a little morel like himself with and without the ball, there’s no chance of it ever happening.