Barcelona are likely to give Bayern Munich a challenge they've yet to face this season

Alex Grimm

There's no doubt that Bayern Munich are one of the favorites to win this year's Champions League, but there's also no doubt that Barcelona are capable of challenging them in ways they haven't yet dealt with.

The prevailing opinion going around is that Bayern Munich should defeat Barcelona in their Champions League semifinal tie. The variations start to show up when you ask people whether or not it will be close or if the Germans will run away with things.

While that's certainly a possibility, it would be downright foolish to dismiss Barcelona no matter how wounded they might be in the defense or how shaky they've looked at times this season. Our Barcelona blog Barca Blaugranes addresses this issue and makes the case that the key for the Catalans might be the fact that while Bayern are undoubtedly a powerful side, they've yet to run into a team like Barca.

The point is, while Bayern might be strong, they have never encountered anything quite like Barcelona - and aside from one forgettable night in 2009, they haven't had the pleasure of facing up against Lionel Messi. After all, Barcelona headed into their 2011 UEFA Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid as slight underdogs - and a Lionel Messi brace virtually sealed the tie in the first-leg at the Santiago Bernabeu. Against AC Milan in the Round of 16, Barcelona were believed to be heading out after a 2-0 defeat in the first-leg at the San Siro - and a Lionel Messi brace sealed a superb turnaround.

This really is an interesting tie and one that could play out is several different ways. That's part of the intrigue and one of the many reasons why we'll be glued to out screens watching today's first leg.

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