Pep Guardiola will make an emotional return to the Nou Camp this week as Bayern Munich face Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
Guardiola was in charge at Barcelona for four seasons and led them to two Champions League triumphs and fourteen trophies in all. The Spaniard must now focus on preventing them making the final in Berlin this year.
He has already masterminded an astonishing comeback from the Germans who went into the second leg of their quarter-final tie with Porto trailing by three goals to one. While most pundits anticipated a fierce response from the German champions, few expected them to crush the opposition 6-1.
There has always been pressure on the coach to succeed at Barcelona but the bar is also set very high at Bayern. Success in the Bundesliga is almost taken for granted and an exit in the quarter-finals of Europe’s top club competition would have been unacceptable. Two goals from Robert Lewandowski helped to put the German giants back on track with the tie all but over by half-time as they raced into a five-goal lead.
The victory secured a semi-final place for the sixth consecutive time for Guardiola. The first leg takes place on Wednesday, May 6th with the second leg on Tuesday, May 12th.
The second semi-final will be between Juventus and reigning champions Real Madrid. Carlo Ancelotti’s side needed a late goal from on-loan Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez to edge past local rivals Atletico.
The match had looked destined to go into extra-time and possibly even penalties but Atletico’s resistance finally buckled, ending their fine run of form against Real this season. The Champions are attempting to become the first team to successfully defend the Champions League title and they have a fine record in semi-finals.
Juventus have reached this stage on ten occasions and reached the final in all but three of those. However, the last time they reached the last four was back in 2003 when they beat Real 4-3 on aggregate.
They reached the semi-finals with a 1-0 aggregate win over Monaco, conquerors of Arsenal on goal difference in the previous round. Bookmakers rate Juventus the 9-1 outsiders to lift the trophy this year with Barcelona having displaced Real Madrid as favourites after their emphatic victory over PSG. Juventus play the first leg against Real Madrid at home on Tuesday, May 5th with the return leg on May 13th.