Van Bommel split between Bayern & Barcelona

The former Blaugrana and Bavarian midfielder believes that the tie will be decided by which team uses possession to their advantage the most efficiently

PSV midfielder Mark van Bommel is torn as to which of Bayern Munich and Barcelona will qualify for the Champions League final this season but believes possession will be more of a factor than physicality.

The European giants are preparing to lock horns at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday in the first semi-final leg, with both sides having impressed hugely in their respective leagues and on the continent this season.

The veteran Dutchman has played for both teams during his career and was unable to decide which of the sides would qualify for the Wembley final in May but stressed that ball retention and usage will be vital in both legs.

“The physical side of the game will not be key. Barca have measured up many times against teams in superior physical condition and won,” he told Mundo Deportivo.

“The key will be the ball. Whichever team has it more will control the match. If Barca return to their best, they will dominate play and will minimise Bayern’s strengths. If Bayern dominate, they will create opportunities and when they do they are usually ruthless.

“I cannot really choose a favourite. Bayern are enjoying a great season, playing at a great level but I would not dare to bet against a team with [Lionel] Messi.

“Furthermore, Barca play the return leg at home and this is important as always but this time round even more so because Bayern are better at home than away. But it is all very equal.

“For me, personally, I will enjoy the two games because they are my former teams and they are two teams that play great football.”

The winner of the two-legged tie will play face Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund at Wembley next month.

Van Bommel: Barcelona or Bayern will win the Champions League

The 35-year-old former Blaugrana and FCB midfielder believes his ex-employers are the two strongest sides left in Europe’s premier club competition this season

PSV midfielder Mark van Bommel believes this year’s Champions League winners will come from whoever triumphs in the semi-final clash between Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The 35-year-old has enjoyed spells with both clubs during his career, conquering Europe with Barcelona in 2006.

And he thinks that, despite the quality Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund possess, the other two are the strongest out of the four sides.

Many are saying that Bayern are slight favourites, but I see things differently. The team that Lionel Messi plays for is never an outsider, and both teams are equally strong,” he told El Mundo Deportivo.

“Bayern Munich and Barcelona are the two best teams in Europe and I am sure that the winner of this tie will win the Champions League.”

When asked which side he wanted to progress, Van Bommel insisted he did not have a preference.

“I‘m neutral. I have played for both clubs, and I had a great time at both, even though I was at Bayern significantly longer.

“I am sure that we will see two special games.”

Messi on the verge of Barcelona return

The club say they will wait to see if their star player is fit to return to Liga action before their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich next week

Lionel Messi could be in contention for Barcelona’s clash with Levante on Saturday, according to assistant coach Jordi Roura.

The Argentine was injured in the first-leg of the Catalans’ Champions League quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain on April 2.

The forward then made a cameo appearance in the return leg of that tie at Camp Nou, but was clearly far from full fitness, but Roura has revealed the forward is closing in on a return to first team action.

“We all know how Messi is,” he told reporters at a press conference.

“He always wants to be out there and participate. He has been working with total intensity to recover. We will see how he is tomorrow morning after training and decide then with Tito.”

Roura added that Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano will miss the game with Levante, as well as the Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich, and believes it will be touch and go whether the pair make the second leg.

Ronaldinho: Hummels would be a good signing for Barcelona

The Brazilian forward has nothing but praise for the defender and Mario Gotze, and is optimistic about the Blaugrana’s chances in the Champions League

Former Barcelona star Ronaldinho believes that Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels would be a good addition for the Spanish powerhouse.

The Blaugrana are keen to add fresh blood to their defence in the summer transfer window and the Germany international is reportedly one of their top targets – much to the delight of the Brazil veteran.

“Hummels is physically very strong, has good technique, accurate passing and wins the majority of his challenges,” Ronaldinho was quoted as saying by Sport Bild.

“He has a lot of qualities that not many defenders have. I am confident that he has what it takes to play for Barcelona.”

The Atletico Mineiro star then went on to praise BVB youngster Mario Gotze and believes the attacking midfielder can become a superstar in his own right.

“I don’t know all the Borussia Dortmund players, but I do know the small technical guy in midfield, Gotze. He has incredible skills,” he continued.

“The way he handles the ball and plays passes is simply amazing. He has all the abilities to become a world-class player.”

Ronaldinho, who won the Champions League with Barca in 2006,  also had his say on the upcoming semi-final clash between Tito Vilanova’s side and Bayern Munich.

“Barcelona are the top favourites for me. I hope they can win the Champions League. They showed up when it mattered most earlier this campaign against AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain.

“That shows they are an excellent team that can cope with the pressure. That’s very important at this stage of the competition.”

Hannover-Bayern Munich Preview: Visitors warm up for Barca clash

The hosts have an impressive home record but the Bavarians will be eager to go into their Champions League semi-final on the back of another win

With their Champions League date with Barcelona looming large, Bayern will once again look to rest some key players, with the likes of Philipp Lahm, Daniel Van Buyten, Javi Martinez, Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben likely to be left out this weekend.

That means Rafinha, Luiz Gustavo, Xherdan Shaqiri and Claudio Pizarro will all start, while Mario Mandzukic will miss out due to a minor knock. Toni Kroos and Holger Badstuber remain long-term absentees.

Meanwhile, Hannover will be without a host of players for the visit of the new German champions, with Leon Andreasen, Mario Eggimann and Szabolcs Huszti all nursing their way back from injury and lacking fitness.

Felipe has a hamstring problem and Franca is recovering after suffering from tuberculosis.

  • However, in their Bundesliga history, H96 have lost more times to Bayern (30) and conceded the most goals against them (125) than any other side.
  • Their 5-0 defeat in the reverse fixture was their heaviest of the last three years.
  • Bayern Munich can reach 81 points with victory and equal the record tally for a Bundesliga season.
  • The Bavarians have only dropped points in four of their 30 games this Bundesliga campaign.