Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal says his former side Bayern Munich are facing “the best team in the world” in Friday’s quarter-final and not “any old team in the Bundesliga”.
Bayern are fancied to beat Barca when the only two previous winners left in the Champions League meet in Lisbon.
“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.”
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Both Bayern and Barcelona are five-time winners of the European Cup, and this week 48% of BBC Sport readers picked Bayern to win the tournament for the first time since 2013.
Barca have failed to inspire this season, surrendering their La Liga title to Real Madrid and leaving manager Quique Setien – appointed in January – already under pressure.
Meanwhile, Bayern were superb after lockdown to sweep to a eighth straight championship in Germany.
“Bayern will be confident but they must know that tomorrow they’re not playing any old team in the Bundesliga, they’re playing against Barca,” 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 semi-finals.
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 Suarez.”
‘It’s not Bayern v Messi’
Messi can join Ronaldo on five Champions League wins should he add the trophy this year – but Bayern are a serious obstacle.
Their coach 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.”
A goal every 47 minutes – the stats
- Barcelona and Bayern Munich have both reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the 18th time (in 24 and 23 appearances respectively), more than any other team.
- Barcelona are in the quarter-finals for the 13th consecutive year – that is every season since 2007-08, a record in the history of the competition.
- Barcelona have lost more Champions League games against Bayern than any other club, losing five of their eight matches against them (W2 D1).
- Barcelona have lost just two of their last 31 Champions League matches (W19 D10) and are unbeaten in this season’s competition (W5 D3); they are one of only three teams still yet to taste defeat this season, along with opponents Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
- Bayern striker Lewandowski has scored 13 goals in just seven Champions League appearances this season, averaging a goal every 47 minutes – in the history of the European Cup/Champions League, this is the best minutes per goal ratio in a single campaign of players to play at least 500 minutes that season.