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Apr 12, 2013

Heynckes hails 'meeting of giants'

Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes has spoken with excitement about the prospect of facing Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

• Schaaf: Battle of the FCBs

Bayern and Barcelona, the runaway leaders in Germany and Spain, will meet first in Munich's Allianz Arena before the return in the Camp Nou the following week.

"Bayern versus Barcelona - giants are meeting in the Champions League," Heynckes said. "It will be huge task for us playing against this team, who have been enthusing and also dominating European football with their imaginative and creative football for the past for years.

"I have always got good results against them with my team in Spain, for instance with Athletic Bilbao I beat them twice in Barcelona. I am looking forward to two magic football nights."

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: "I am looking forward to the games. That's the team that has been the most successful over the past few years. It will be extremely difficult and very exciting. I can remember our last two games, it was our Waterloo in Barcelona.

"It is a chance for us to show that Bayern got better since 2009 and we can compete with the best teams again. It will be an interesting competition between Bundesliga and Primara Division. There is no clear favourite in both draws."

Defender Philipp Lahm thinks the tie is evenly poised: "A nice draw - the 2013 Spanish champions against the 2013 German champions - that's a top match. For the third time in four years we have reached the semi-finals and meet Barcelona at eye-level.

"Our chances of advancing to the London final are 50/50. It will be an interesting duel between two top teams. Everyone can look forward to them."

Midfielder Javi Martinez added: "Barcelona is a tough draw, but at the semi-final stage there are no easy opponents left in Champions League. They have been the absolute top team in Europe over the past few years, it will be very difficult for us. But if we want to reach the final we also have to beat Barca."

Germany star Thomas Muller said: "I have never played against Barcelona, and that's why I am looking forward to it. With only four teams remaining there are only crunch encounters left. It will be a very tough task , but we can take them with a confidence."

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer cannot wait for the games. "That's a cracker! It could have been the final," remarked Neuer. "Two fantastic games are ahead of us and the fans are looking forward to them big time.

"Barcelona have an outstanding team, and have been at top both at the international and the domestic level over the past years. Of course, we need to keep an eye on the amazing [Lionel] Messi, the best player in the world should not blossom like he did in the return legs against Milan or PSG."

Arjen Robben added: "I think that is super draw, a nice challenge for us. The four best teams in Europe right now are in the semi-finals and we can survive all of them. It will be decisive to get a good result at home and defend without any mistakes in Barcelona. This tie will be decided by those little details."

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