Afternoon European football fans! Thanks for joining Sports Mole
for what promises to be intriguing pre-season friendly between Bayern Munich
. Two of Europe's biggest sides will resume hostilities in a charity match this evening, with more storylines on offer than a soap opera.
First of all there's the presence of new Bayern boss Pep Guardiola
, who takes on his former club today in preparation for a first campaign in charge of the reigning European champions. The Spaniard faces a huge challenge to match the achievements of previous coach Jupp Heynckes
, who delivered a historic treble for the Bavarians just two months ago.
Guardiola has set his stall out early on with a pair of marquee, attacking signs. The summer capture of Mario Gotze
has been followed up by a reunion in Germany with starlet Thaigo Alcantara, who has joined quite possibly the most talented midfield in Europe in a big-money move. Question marks still surround just how Pep will fit all his attacking players into a winning formation, with today's match hopefully providing some hint as to the system he plans to implement.
Barca on the other hand have endured a turbulent close season, with the unfortunate resignation of boss Tito Vilanova
due to health. Argentine successor Gerardo Martino
will be officially unveiled as his replacement at the Camp Nou on Friday, with caretaker Jordi Roura
holding the fort in Munich this afternoon.
The Catalan giants did make a signing for fans to savour earlier this summer, bringing in Brazilian forward Neymar
in a major coup. Both Neymar
and Lionel Messi
have travelled to Munich, but are very unlikely to make Roura's starting XI.
Barca have brought 11 first-team players to Bavaria for tonight's first friendly of the summer, including Javier Mascherano
, Alex Song
and Alexis Sanchez
. A string of youngsters make up the rest of Roura's squad, and they will get a true baptism of fire if introduced from the bench today.
Today's prestigious clash marks the first time these two teams have met since last season's Champions League semi-final. Bayern truly signalled a shift in power in that memorable win, brushing Barca aside 7-0 on aggregate in an awesome display over two legs.
News of the Bayern starting XI has just reached us, with Thiago included against his old club. A full look at the Munich side will follow in just a few moments.
BAYERN: Neuer, Dante, Thiago, Ribéry, Robben, Rafinha, Boateng, Lahm, Müller, Alaba, Kroos
Barcelona's starting XI is slightly late reaching us, with the Spanish champions reportedly stuck in traffic until just a few minutes ago.
Better late than never we have the Barca starting lineup, which features Messi, Alexis Sanchez
and Cristian Tello in a three-pronged attack. Full details in just a minute or two.
BARCA: Pinto, Montoya, Bartra, Mascherano, Adriano, Song, Dos Santos, Sergi Roberto, Alexis, Messi, Tello
With a whole host of star names still on holiday following the Confederations Cup that is just about as strong a Barca lineup as we could have expected. Mascherano will start at centre half alongside Marc Bartra, who endured a nightmare match here at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League last season.
Judging from Bayern's cruise to victory in the Telekom Cup last weekend I expect Guardiola's side to lineup in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Philipp Lahm
pushed into midfield. Franck Ribery
and Thomas Muller have both played in a lone front role during pre-season, so either man could continue in that position this evening.
Bayern are of course much further advanced in their pre-season preparations, with a German Super Cup tie with Borussia Dortmund ahead on Saturday. Barca are really in at the deep end to start their summer schedule today, with a switch to Oslo for intensive training due later this week.
Despite seeing Messi on the Barca teamsheet I can't look beyond Bayern in today's Uli Hoeness
Cup match. The Bavarians have been scoring for fun in pre-season and I fully expect that to continue this afternoon, with Muller to net in a 3-1 success.
The Allianz Arena is packed to capacity for this afternoon's enticing friendly, with all eyes on how Guardiola's side will operate. A first look at Thiago must be on Bayern's fans minds first and foremost, with the youngster likely to operate in a fluid midfield role.
The two sides are out in Munich, with Thiago brought out last and running past old Barca teammates to a warm reception. We are slightly late getting underway, but I'm pretty sure this friendly full of stars will be worth the wait. A transport issue is reportedly to blame, with both teams taking the chance to continue their warm-up.
Just a word on two players that will definitely not feature for Bayern tonight, with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez
still working their way back from injury niggles. Those two midfielders aside the European Champions are just about at full strength, with an embarrassment of riches at Guardiola's disposal.
Kickoff is expected in a just a few minutes, with the German officials desperate not to clash with the womens national side's European semi-final later this evening.
Most of Bayern's star-studded squad are passing the time with a game of piggy in the middle, with Arjen Robben
offering Manuel Neuer shooting practice. The Dutchman was quite outstanding last season, showing an improved work-rate that was particularly evident in Bayern's 3-0 success at the Camp Nou last season.
A quick scan of the bookmaker's odds for this match shows Barcelona on offer at a price of 5/1. You will definitely not see the Spanish champions anywhere neat that value this season, but given their lack of pre-season training it might be best to hold fire on backing Roura's side today.
Both sides are now out in striking new kits and ready to get this showpiece friendly underway. Barca's changed strip of bright red-and-yellow stripes is definitely memorable, if a little sore on the eyes.
Captains Lahm and Messi have exchanged pleasantries, the wait is finally over. Barca will get the match underway, shooting from left to right. Just to note that the delay has meant the match will be reduced to 40 minutes each way!
Messi didn't take long to hammer a first strike towards goal, with the forward invited to shoot as Boateng backed off. His curling effort deflected wide for an early corner kick, which Bayern were able to clear with relative ease.
Very casual stuff at the back from Dante and Alaba sees Bayern concede possession, but Thaigo is quick to win the ball back. Early on Robben has take up a central strike role for the hosts, with Kroos the first to test Pinto with a drive from distance, which the keeper parried clear with both fists.
Tello just looked to have been afforded enough space to shoot inside the penalty area, but Lahm's covering challenge clears the danger. Bayern then launch a rapid counter, with Robben denied a tap-in at the back post by a superb late block from Adriano. Early action at both ends!
Mascherano is caught in possession deep inside his own half, but luckily his central defensive partner Barta was on hand to stop Robben's flick finding Muller in the penalty area. A sloppy pass from Dos Santos then fails to find Tello out wide, with Barca just struggling to retain possession in the early going.
SAVE! Slick passing from Robben and Ribery finds an overlap from Alaba just inside the penalty area. The full-backs's fierce drive inside looks dangerous, and requires a firm stop from Pinto inside the six-yard box.
Mascherano shows studs in a late challenge on Lahm, handing Bayern a free kick around 30 yards from goal. Robben elects to take and crosses low into the penalty area, with a tame delivery knocked clear into touch.
GOAL! Bayern 1-0 Barcelona (Lahm)
First blood to Bayern and a rare goal for Lahm, who looks to be relishing his new midfield role. The captain got forward to meet a curling cross from Ribery, with his flick header enough to beat Pinto from close range. Given their early dominance that is an advantage Guardiola's side fully merit.
CHANCE! A promising Barca break should really have seen the hosts draw level almost instantly. A slick pass inside from Montoya found Sergio Roberto inside the penalty area. The midfielder slithered passed Boateng and raced towards goal, but just lost his footing before sending a low punt beyond the near post.
The combination of Dante and Boateng proves enough to block Messi's hopeful drive from just outside the penalty area, with Bayern once again quick to break forward with purpose. Robben, Thiago and Alaba all get touches inside the box, but Bartra is well placed to intercept and scramble clear.
Ribery wants a penalty after going down under a challenge from Batrta, but the referee waves away his protests. A rampant Bayern then stride forward through Muller, who given time and space aims a toe-poked shot just over the crossbar.
Dante just gets the better of a meaty challenge with Roberto on the halfway line, after the young Barca midfielder had done well to intercept a Ribery pass bound for Robben. Talk about a baptism of fire for some of these Catalan starlets, who seem determined to play out from the back against the reigning European Champions.
Lahm's floated cross towards the back post is aimed towards Dante, but Bartra jut does enough to deny the central defender a clean contact. The hosts keep the pressure on as Muller and Rafinha exchange passes out wide, but Roberto once again shows strength to sweep away danger, for now at least.
Adriano is once again forced into a last-gasp clearance as Muller attempted to present Robben with a tap-in from close range. Some the slick passing on show from Bayern is simply breathtaking, with Ribery in particular looking like a player at the peak of his powers.
Messi is unable to find his range from a free kick in a rare Barca attack. Meanwhile we have been informed that at the insistence of Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
the match will go back to a full 45-minutes each way clash.
Pinto is back in action once more, catching a low drive from Ribery. Kroos then attempts to pick out Muller with a long, diagonal pass, but the forward concedes a free kick with his efforts to bring the ball down.
A bright forward burst from Tello sees the winger run at his marker, driving inside before whipping a shot beyond Neuer's far post. Messi then attempts to swap passes with Sanchez inside the final third, but Dante reads the danger and positions his body to intercept.
YELLOW CARD! Mascherano takes down Ribery with a crude tackle and picks up a booking, probably for persistent fouling more than that one offence.
YELLOW CARD! Tello finds too many Bayern shirts in his path while attempting to pick out Roberto inside the penalty area, with Ribery quick to lead another home charge from the clearance. The Frenchman has too much pace and trickery for Bartra, who gets booked for pulling his opponent's shirt out of desperation.
Rafinha has just gone very close to conceding an own goal under little pressure, with his chest back towards Neuer needing a save wide of the keeper's near post.
HALF-TIME Bayern 1-0 Barcelona
At the break Bayern hold a one-goal advantage thanks to skipper Lahm's clever header, but in truth they should be further ahead. Ribery looks in magnificent form, with Barca forced to defend for much of the opening period.
We expected Bayern to take charge of the match given their fitness advantage, but even so Guardiola's men have been very impressive. Thiago has been effective on his debut in a withdrawn midfield role, flanked by Lahm and Kroos.
Bayern's star-studded attack are also definitely enjoying the freedom afforded by Guardiola's fluid approach, with Robben, Ribery and Muller all regularly swapping positions. With Gotze, Mandzukic and Shaqiri all waiting in reserve the Bavarians will take some stopping this season.
With Barca just getting their pre-season preparations underway we have to expect wholesale changes at the break, putting a string of B team players under the microscope. What a daunting prospect 45 minutes against the European Champions will be when play resumes in just a moment.
SUBSTITUTIONS: A sweeping change in personnel is imminent, I'll do my best to keep up with the subs as they happen. Schweinsteiger and Shaqiri looked primed for action for the hosts, while fringe Barca youngsters including Kiko are about to be introduced.
Bayern get the second half underway, with substitute Mandzukic getting his first touch. Unfortunately for a beleaguered Barca backline Ribery is still on the pitch and primed to torment once more.
Replacement goalkeeper Tom Starke is also on for Bayern, but might have to wait some time for his first touch as the hosts press high up the pitch. Barca are able to win an early corner kick though, with Boateng forced to block a deep cross behind under pressure.
Espinoza delivery from the corner is knocked into the penalty area, but Boateng atones for his error by heading clear with authority. Mandukic is then unable to bring down a long ball forward on the break, with Bayern just easing their way slowly back into the match.
Ribery nicks possession and finds Thiago, who in turn picks out Shaqiri with a floated pass out wide. Rafinha then darts inside to join the attack, but his cross back towards Thiago in the penalty area just proves to be a fraction too high.
Quick feet from Shaqiri leaves his marker for dead out wide, with a chipped cross towards the back post just turned behind to safety by Kiko. More changes are in the offing for Bayern, with Luis Gustavo primed to enter the fray.
A brave block deflects Thiago's shot away as Barca continue to defend resolutely inside their own half. You have to say Roura has placed considerable faith in some of these youngsters by giving them 45 minutes here against the European Champions, and they are holding firm for now.
SUBSTITUTIONS: A double change from Bayern, with Dante and Lahm coming off for Gustavo and Van Buyten. The strength in depth on show at the Allianz Arena really is quite frightening for Bayern's Bundesliga rivals.
Dangerous play inside their own box from Barca nearly results in a second goal, with Mandzukic's low drive forcing a smart stop from sub goalkeeper Oier.
Barca's fringe players continue to try and express themselves with some crisp passing, which results in Espnizoa spraying a shot wide from well outside the penalty area. Meanwhile Bayern are about to make another set of changes, with some confusion at the moment as to just who is coming off.
SUBSTITUTIONS: So it's Kirchoff, Contento and Schweinsteiger on for Bayern, with Ribery, Kroos and Boateng withdrawn after a thorough workout. After a whole host of changes can Barca take advantage to force an unlikely response?
Bayern have definitely taken their foot off the pedal since the break, with the passing and movement just lacking the edge on show before the interval. Thiago typifies that approach with a sloppy ball in search of Mandzukic, which is blocked before it can reach the final third.
SUBSTITUTIONS: Here come another pair of Bayern replacements, with Emre Can and Claudio Pizarro replacing Thiago and Rafinha. The former Barca youngster lasted just 14 minutes shy of a full match on his Bayern debut, but looked just short of match fitness at times in a central midfield role.
Contento comes close to an instant impact, driving forward before having a low drive from range caught by Oier. Barca's youngster are continuing to work hard, without ever looking likely to force an equaliser.
Definitely some audible boos in the crowd at the Allianz, with the Bayern faithful unhappy with a slightly lacklustre second period from the hosts. A long pass towards Mandzukic attempts to lighten the mood, but a stubborn Barca defence once again has enough cover to avert danger.
Shaqiri creates space with a smart shimmy inside, but his attempt to disguise a shot into the bottom corner lacks power or conviction. Barca then break forward at the other end through Espinoza, who has a dart into the final third quickly shut down by Gustavo.
Patrick has shot from a tight angle stopped by Stark, but the offside flag was raised anyway on the far side before his strike went towards goal. At the other end Contento is brought down by a late tackle by Dongou, allowing Bayern to drive forward through Emre Can down the right wing.
GOAL! Bayern 2-0 Barcelona (Mandzukic)
Barca's spritied resistance since the break has just been ended by Mandzukic, who side-footed a comfortable finish home from close range. Contento deserves much of the credit for that goal, after breaking clear down the left flank to send a teasing cross towards the six-yard box. Game over then just a few minutes short of full-time.
FULL-TIME Bayern Munich 2-0 Barcelona
A comfortable win for Bayern maintains their 100% run in pre-season, at the expense of Guardiola's former side Barcelona. Plenty of positives their for Pep, with his side looking sharp and ready to get the Bundesliga underway next weekend.
A much-changed Barca side full of fringe players largely acquitted themselves well, but were unable to stop goals from Lahm and Mandzukic making the difference. Thiago also showed neat touches on his Bayern debut, so all round both sides can look back at the Uli Hoeness Cup as a worthwhile exercise.
That just about concludes our coverage from the Allianz Arena, with Lahm ready to receive a trophy to mark the victory from Hoeness. Thanks for joining Sports Mole and be sure to join us all summer for comprehensive pre-season coverage from across the continent.