Barcelona v Bayern: The Return Leg

Can Barcelona do seemingly the impossible and overturn a 4 goal deficit in the return leg of their Champions League semi-final with Bayern Munich? Today on the blog Andrew takes a look at the odds, the stats and the history as the Champions League semi-final round comes to a close this Wednesday night in Spain.

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Champions League semi-final action concludes Wednesday night as Bayern Munich travel to the Camp Nou on the back of a 4-0 thumping of Barcelona at the Allianz Arena in the opening leg of their semi-final tie. It's a grim challenge that stands before the Spanish club with many seeing the opening leg result a suggestion of a power shift in European club football towards the German giants.

The Odds

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So let's begin once again by taking a look at the match odds for the return leg. Average bookmaker odds have Barcelona at roughly a 52% chance of winning the match, with a Bayern victory assessed as a 24% chance while a fulltime draw is likewise 24%. You can find odds of 1.75 widely available on a Barcelona victory, with BetVictor offering odds of 4.30 for a Bayern Munich victory while Bet365 have odds of 4.50 available for the draw.

When we look at the betting for Champions League Final qualification, the bookmakers have all but shut up shop with average odds assessing Bayern Munich as a 94% chance of booking a ticket for Wembley in a few weeks time. Prior to last week's 1st leg, Barcelona were considered a 57% chance of advancing to the final. But of course, a week is a long time in football and following the crushing defeat in Germany, Barcelona find themselves a mere 6% chance of being Champions League finalists in 2013 by bookmaker estimations. If you're brave enough to enter this market, William Hill are offering Bayern Munich at odds of 1.04 to move through to the final, with Bet365 posting odds of 19.00 for Barcelona to stun the world and reverse the 1st leg result.

Lastly, let's take a look at some of the other markets that hold a touch of intrigue. An away goal for Bayern Munich will all but finish the semi-final and bookmakers have both clubs getting on the scoreboard at an average odds probability of 63%. Bet365 have best odds of 1.44 on offer for both clubs to score, with William Hill posting odds of 2.62 for the reverse result. Can Barcelona claim the 4-0 fulltime result needed to force extra time? The bookmakers suggest that scoreline as very unlikely with BetVictor offering odds of 36.00.

The Stats

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The charts above display the key stats from the opening leg. As we can see Barcelona had the bulk of possession holding the ball for 66% of the contest. Unfortunately for the Spanish club it was futile possession on the back of 91% pass accuracy that crafted a mere 4 shots with just a lone shot on target. At the other end of the field, Bayern launched 15 shots with near on 50% of those shots, a total of 7, hitting the target.

We can expect a similar share of possession in Wednesday night's return leg, but Barcelona will need to desperately find a way to negotiate the Bayern defense, a defense that heading into this week's matchup had surrendered an average of 8.6 shots per game this Champions League campaign, placing them 2nd for average shots conceded during the tournament behind Porto while being ranked equal 1st with Barcelona for average shots conceded in away matches at 10.2.

Barcelona are ranked 8th through the tournament for average shots taken at home at 18.4, with 33% of those shots hitting the target. Meanwhile, Bayern are ranked 2nd behind Juventus for average shots taken in away matches at 16.2, hitting the target 31% of the time. Unfortunately for Barcelona, the clarity of the task before them this Wednesday night doesn't make that task any easier. As the stats suggest, Bayern are not only good enough to do what is needed in order to qualify for the final, they're more than capable of winning the match outright.

The History

Let's then take a look back at similar situations in European club competition recent history. The chart below shows the results of return legs for European club competition quarter-finals and semi-finals since 1992/93 where the home club had won the opening leg 4-0.

Year2nd LegScore
1997 Champions League Porto v Manchester United 0-0
2002 UEFA Cup AC Milan v Dortmund 3-1
2005 UEFA Cup Auxerre v CSKA Moscow 2-0
2009 Champions League Bayern v Barcelona 1-1
2011 Champions League Tottenham v Real Madrid 0-1

As we can see, such circumstances have been rare in the recent history of European club competition. We can observe that the home club in the return leg managed to win the match just twice and on both occasions they failed to overturn the deficit. Further, only once did the return leg finish with more than two goals scored between the clubs.

We can extend our analysis to consider situations through the same time span where the home club had won the opening leg by the score of 3-0. This has occurred six occasions with the home club in the return leg winning five times, but again failing to overturn the deficit each time.

Finally, throughout the entire history of European club competition a club has managed to overturn a deficit of four goals following the opening leg on just three occasions. In the third round of the 1986 UEFA Cup, Borussia Monchengladbach defeated Real Madrid 5-1 in the 1st leg before going on to lose the return fixture 0-4 in Spain. It was a similar story for QPR in the second round of the 1985 UEFA Cup. Having won the opening leg 6-2, the English club would lose 0-4 to FK Partizan. And finally, back in the opening round of the 1962 Cup Winners Cup, La Chaux de Fonds would surrender a 6-2 1st leg advantage to Leixoes, losing 0-5 in the return leg.

Conclusion

Those who backed Barcelona last week entering their semi-final at the odds of 1.80 to advance to the final would dearly love an away goal in their back pocket. But unfortunately for them and Barca fans, the task is just that much more difficult. As the bookmakers have acutely assessed, Barcelona have a 6% chance of flipping the result from the opening leg.

Barcelona have not lost at home in European competition for four seasons, but in order to book their place in the 2013 Champions League final, one of the greatest teams ever assembled will have to shock the world. Not only do they need to score four times on a defense that has shown all season long the ability to frustrate even the best attacks, Barcelona will have to do so without allowing the visitors to score.

Some will point to Barcelona's great record against Bundesliga clubs, a record that has seen them victorious in 19 of 26 contests. But really what does that help here? Any club at Champions League level is a difficult enough proposition without the added incline of a 4 goal 1st leg deficit. Barcelona have been a great club in recent seasons and if they are able to overcome their current predicament, then they will once again prove their quality on such a grand stage. But the reality is, they are coming up against a club of equal quality and certainly a club in greater touch than themselves. Bayern Munich should advance to the 2013 Champions League final and a 2-1 victory for the German club in the return leg would once again prove that this season, they are a class above the competition.

 

 

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