Four goals to the good – an impregnable first-leg advantage if UEFA Champions League precedents are anything to go by – FC Bayern München could be forgiven for taking Wednesday's trip to FC Barcelona lightly. Bastian Schweinsteiger, though, is far too sage for that.
There was talk of a changing of the guard after last week's opening instalments of the semi-finals; a power shift from Spain's Liga powerhouses to Germany's pre-eminent forces. Bayern set a tone that Borussia Dortmund followed and, leading 4-0, look certain to be at Wembley for next month's showpiece. However, the Azulgrana have raised the bar on the European stage in recent years and Schweinsteiger knows his team discount them at their peril.
"Barcelona can turn the tie around – they are capable of it," said the Germany midfielder. "Barcelona have been wounded so that makes them dangerous.
The first leg has opened the door but we haven't crossed the threshold yet. It'll be a difficult match as few teams have stood up to Barcelona at Camp Nou. We have to be even more focused than in the first leg. It'll be tough because Barcelona are capable of great things."
Though Schweinsteiger was at pains to dismiss suggestions of a sea change witnessed in Munich last week, his coach Jupp Heynckes feels the 28-year-old has long since belonged in such vaunted company. "When I started coaching Bayern, I said
Bastian is a player like Xavi [Hernández] and [Andrés] Iniesta. Bastian has all the virtues that you require in a midfielder. He attacks, he defends, he's good with his head, he's a leader, he helps tactically ... ten out of ten."
Mathematically at least, Barcelona's task is simple – win by five clear goals and they are through; 4-0 and it goes to extra time. No team has ever overcome such a hefty first-leg deficit in the competition, but there is one positive omen for the Spanish champions-elect. The last time Bayern came to Camp Nou they conceded four without reply.
"The pitch is slightly larger so it might be tough for those who haven't played here before," added Schweinsteiger, a member of that side so comprehensively beaten in the 2008/09 quarter-final first leg. "The Barcelona fans will get behind their team, but we have to stay focused on our objective and forget what is around us.
It's always an honour to represent this club and these nights are always special. We have to be ourselves and we want to represent the club because we're proud of it. It's an honour to play this match. We are in tip-top form and it is great to be able to play at Camp Nou, really motivating."
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