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UEFA Champions League

BarcelonaBarcelona
Bayern MunichBayern Munich
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Leg 1
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Messi not distracted by Pep

Barcelona
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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Juve-Real Madrid; Barcelona-Bayern: Champions League predicted XIs

Take a By The Numbers look ahead of the Champions League semifinal first legs, as Real Madrid search for consecutive Champions League titles and Bayern Munich aim to continue their dominance at the Camp Nou.

The Champions League is down to the final four with Italian champions Juventus hosting European champions Real Madrid on Tuesday and Pep Guardiola returning to Barcelona with his current club Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

Ahead of the fixtures we've factored in form, suspensions and injuries to predict the possible starting XIs for each team as they look to gain a first-leg advantage.

Juventus vs. Real Madrid

Juventus XI
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Juventus team news: Juventus will be without star midfielder Paul Pogba (thigh) and...

 By Kevin Palmer

Can Guardiola upset Barca? Four talking points in UCL quarterfinals

Take a By The Numbers look ahead of the Champions League semifinal first legs, as Real Madrid search for consecutive Champions League titles and Bayern Munich aim to continue their dominance at the Camp Nou.

The Champions League semifinals get underway with Pep Guardiola's return to Barcelona with Bayern Munich and holders Real Madrid taking on Italian giants Juventus.

Will Bale ever be loved at Real Madrid?

Less than a year has passed since Gareth Bale scored the pivotal goal that sent Real Madrid on their way to a long-awaited 10th Champions League success, but the Welshman's heroics appear to have been quickly forgotten by supporters who have never entirely warmed to his talents.

After Real Madrid...

Pep Guardiola faces biggest challenge yet against former club Barcelona

The ESPN FC crew give their take on the SPI prediction that gives Barcelona a slight edge over Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the Champions League.

The wonder, and real key to the Champions League semifinal between Barcelona and Bayern Munich, is whether Pep Guardiola has by now found what he describes as the "flash of inspiration ... the moment that makes sense of my profession."

Because, by the time the Bayern coach returns to the luscious lights and 99,000 welcoming fans of the Camp Nou on Wednesday, Guardiola will hope to disappoint those same fans by drawing on what he has deduced from hours spent alone in a darkened room.

It is his preparation...

Keys for Bayern Munich to contain Barcelona's big three

What formation and defensive scheme will Bayern use versus Messi, Neymar and Suarez?
What formation and defensive scheme will Bayern use versus Messi, Neymar and Suarez?

The Barcelona forward line of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez has become the most feared attacking trio in club football. The group has not only scored 73 percent of Barca's league-high 105 domestic goals this season, but has also scored 20 of Barca's 23 Champions League goals heading into its semifinal matchup with Bayern Munich.

However, Bayern is a strong defensive team: Its 15 goals conceded in the 2014-15 Bundesliga season are the fewest in the top-five European leagues. However, Bayern's defensive effort will be especially important given the recent attacking loss of leading chance creator Arjen Robben to a calf injury and the uncertain status of winger Franck Ribery's ankle heading into the semifinal. These attacking losses put more emphasis on Bayern being able to stop Barca's high-powered forward line.

Here's a look at what makes Barca's attacking unit so dangerous and what Bayern's defense must do in order to contain the trio of Messi, Neymar and Suarez.

...

 By Rory Smith

Champions League in danger of losing its appeal by becoming too predictable

Take a By The Numbers look ahead of the Champions League semifinal first legs, as Real Madrid search for consecutive Champions League titles and Bayern Munich aim to continue their dominance at the Camp Nou.

The rhetoric is already being ramped up. Sergio Ramos has described the first leg of Real Madrid's Champions League semifinal with Juventus as one of "three finals" for Carlo Ancelotti's team this season. Lionel Messi is busy insisting that the prospect of meeting Pep Guardiola is not motivating Barcelona's players; Thomas Muller is confident his coach's intimate knowledge of his former club gives Bayern Munich the most slender of advantages.

This week is one of those rare occasions when the hype...