After brushing aside Manchester City and Porto in the quarterfinals, continental heavyweights Barcelona and Bayern Munich face off in the semi-finals of the 2014-15 Champions League. Bayern Munich will look to put behind their German League Cup defeat to Dortmund behind them, while Barcelona will look to continue their home domination which has taken them to the top of La Liga. Bayern thrashed Barca in the semi-finals of the same competition in 2013 with a 7-0 aggregate victory, with Barcelona seeking redemption as Messi is hitting top form at the right time. Here are 5 battles on field which shall see superstars go head to head when the two giants clash :-
Thomas Muller vs Gerard Pique
Pique will look to stop Muller, who at the age of 25 has won a Champions League, World Cup and was also the highest goal scorer in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Pique, having a fine season will have the task to prevent Muller from making his intelligent runs behind defenders, thus leaving wide gaps.
David Alaba vs Luis Suarez
MSN (Messi, Suarez and Neymar) have scored a combined 100 goals in all competitions, but the former Liverpool forward deserves special credit for playing the false number 9 perfectly. Alaba will have to curb his attacking instincts to thwart Suarez, who completely outplayed the Paris Saint Germain defence in the previous round.
Xabi Alonso vs Ivan Rakitic
Often overlooked for bigger stars in their team, these two are vital for breaking up play. Rakitic has picked up from where Fabregas left, often utilizing unused spaces and playing one-twos with the Barca forward line. Alonso will look to break up this type of passing, aided by the number of Clasicos he played during his Real Madrid stint.
Manuel Neuer vs Marc Andre Ter Stegen
Barcelona have followed the unusual system of different goalkeepers for different competitions this season. Ter Stegen, used only in the Champions League has been a revelation under the bar. Neuer will look to put behind his penalty miss vs Dortmund as quickly as possible, and continue with his Cryuff like turns versus the stylish Catalans.
Guardiola vs Enrique
Guardiola will be returning to his former club for the first team since his departure at the end of the 2011/12 season. Emotions might run high for Pep, but his starting eleven and strategies will be closely scrutinized by one and all. Luis Enrique might not have pleased Lionel Messi and a few others at the beginning of the season, but now, he has his sights firmly set on the treble.