Bayern Munich will try to silence critics when they take on Barcelona in a crucial Champions League quarter finals match on Wednesday. However, the venue may prove decisive.
Bayern coach Jürgen Klinsmann has called on players to perform or face the music
While Spanish leaders Barcelona have won five straight Spanish league games going into the first Champions League leg at the Camp Nou, Bayern Munich are still reeling from a humiliating weekend defeat in the Bundesliga.
A brilliant Wolfsburg thrashed Bayern 5-1 on Saturday, going to the top of the league in the process and leaving the Bavarians in fourth place, three points off the top with eight matches left.
Bayern's management is now hoping for results in the lucrative Champions League to silence the critics.
"It feels like a mission impossible, but we know from experience that miracles or upsets do happen in football," said Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
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Bayern Munich will be without injured central defender Lucio, who picked up a muscle injury in the game against Wolfsburg. Bayern are also without injured striker Miroslav Klose who is out for several weeks following surgery.
"We clearly expect that the team bends over backwards now," Rummenigge told the club website. "It is now up to the team. The team has to shoulder the responsibility now."
The Kaiser criticizes Klinsmann
The humiliating defeat at the hands of Wolfsburg has cast doubts on Jürgen Klinsmann's future as Bayern coach. The clouds on the horizon are likely to darken further if the Bavarians fail to reach the semis of the Champions League.
All was harmony last year when Klinsmann became the new Bayern coach
Bayern Munich president Franz Beckenbauer, or "the Kaiser" as the Germans like to call him, already caused a stir after the Wolfsburg match by saying that Bayern would have to reconsider Klinsmann's future at the club after this season.
However, he was immediately rebuffed by Manager Uli Hoeneß. "Sometimes I'm not sure whether Franz is close enough to what's actually happening to make a proper assessment," Hoeneß said.
Klinsmann's contract expires in 2010, and Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has reportedly given Klinsmann a job guarantee beyond the current contract.
Bayern's late CL final defeat in Nou Camp in 1999 traumatized players and fans alike
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Victory in Barcelona would boost Klinsmann's prospects and silence critics, for the time being. However, Barca will be tough opponents and there is another aspect which may play a crucial psychological role.
Bayern are likely to have bitter memories about their last trip to the Nou Camp which was the 1999 Champions League final they famously lost 2-1 after leading 1-0 for most of the game against Manchester United who scored two injury time goals through Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.