FC Bayern München v FC Barcelona will be "a fantastic football feast" according to Philipp Lahm, certain the German champions are much improved from their 2012 final loss.
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Both FC Bayern München and FC Barcelona suffered UEFA Champions League heartbreak at the hands of Chelsea FC 12 months ago, but as the two sides meet in the semi-finals Philipp Lahm is confident the Bundesliga winners have gained from their experience last year.
Bayern had the most painful of endings to 2011/12 when beaten by Chelsea on penalties on their home ground yet this season they have been unstoppable, having clinched the German title and performed superbly in Europe. Barcelona have not looked back either since their semi-final loss to Chelsea, though Lahm is sure Bayern will be ready for their first-leg visitors on Tuesday.
"We responded so well to last year's Champions League final, we all took one step forward and we are looking forward to the game against Barcelona," full-back Lahm said.
"We have learned from last year. In particular we play better in defence than last year. Unfortunately there is no guarantee of making the final. But one thing is for sure: I think during the coming years we will have more chances to get to the final and win it."
As a defender, Lahm might be expected to welcome the possible absence of Lionel Messi, but the 29-year-old claims "of course we hope he will play tomorrow". However, he knows that Barcelona pose a unique threat regardless.
"It is not about our four defenders," Lahm said. "All the team have to think defensively. We are playing against Barcelona and it is not just about defence. It also about our attack. And I think we have the kind of players to hurt Barcelona."
Certainly, Lahm is not harking back to their heavy semi-final first-leg loss at Barcelona four years ago. "You cannot undo the 4-0 now," the German international said. "Now things are different, we have really developed, we want a step forward. This game is very different from how it was in 2009."
Indeed, Lahm promises a superb tie between Josep Guardiola's former club and the side he takes over next season. "Barcelona are perhaps the best team in Europe, while we have developed very well in the last year," he said. "And we have made the final twice in the last three years. It will be a fantastic football feast. People say we are the team of next few years – it will be interesting against Barcelona."