Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal says his former side Bayern Munich are facing “the best team in the world” in tonight’s quarterfinal and not “any old team in the Bundesliga”.
Bayern are fancied to beat Barça when the only two previous winners left in the Champions League meet in Lisbon. The two are five-time winners of the prestige European competition.
“I understand the pessimism but we are the best team in the world,” Vidal said. “The problem is that we don’t always show it.”
Barça have failed to inspire this season, surrendering their La Liga title to Real Madrid and leaving manager Quique Setién – appointed in January – already under pressure.
Meanwhile, Bayern were superb after the lockdown to sweep to a eighth straight championship in Germany.
“Bayern will be confident but they must know that they’re not playing any old team in the Bundesliga, they’re playing against Barça,” Vidal said. “We have Leo [Messi], we have the best players and we want to prove ourselves.”
The winners will play Manchester City or Lyon in the semifinals.
Bayern’s main goal threat will come from Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who has 13 goals in seven Champions League games this term and is four behind Cristiano Ronaldo’s record haul in one season.
“Lewandowski is extraordinary, very dangerous, an insatiable goalscorer,” Vidal said. “It’s going to be very difficult to stop him but it’s impossible to compare him with Messi, who is from another planet. But you could say that Lewandowski is the best striker in the world alongside Luis Suárez.”
Messi can join Ronaldo on five Champions League wins should he add the trophy this year, but Bayern are a serious obstacle.
Their coach Hans-Dieter “Hansi” Flick – who was in charge on an interim basis – signed a long-term deal during the lockdown and could make it a treble in his first season in the job with victory in Lisbon.
“We have a lot of respect for them because Barcelona have been for decades among the best teams in Europe,” Flick said.
“Messi has been the best player for several years now. An exceptional player. But it’s not just Bayern against Messi. It is Bayern against Barcelona. Messi is a world class player and we have obviously thought about how to play him. We need to do it as a team. It is important to play smart against him. To see the spaces and put him under pressure in the one-on-ones and win those.” – BBC Sport