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Pep Guardiola brings Bayern to face Lionel Messi and Barcelona in Champions League semifinals

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BARCELONA, Spain — Pep Guardiola is headed home to visit Lionel Messi and his Barcelona teammates in the Champions League semifinals.

The current Bayern Munich coach, who led Barcelona to 14 titles before heading to Germany and helped win more as a player, will face his old team in the first leg on Wednesday at Camp Nou.

Guardiola has already won the Bundesliga title this season and will next meet his childhood club and former teammate Luis Enrique.

"We experienced some really great moments together," Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta said of Guardiola. "Wednesday's game will be special for everyone because the memories are always there."

Here are some things to know about Wednesday's match:


OBSESSION WITH POSSESSION

No other coach besides former Real Madrid nemesis Jose Mourinho has left his mark on European soccer like Guardiola, who perfected Barcelona's passing style and implanted it at Bayern.

The possession-based approach has often worked, but when it hasn't led to titles it has earned Guardiola the criticism of being more interested with having the ball than putting it in the net.

The arrival of Luis Enrique to coach Barcelona, and, equally important, that of Luis Suarez to provide a traditional striker up front, has let Barcelona finally vary its tactics, which had atrophied since Guardiola left. Barcelona can now win through set pieces and long balls for Suarez, something rarely seen over the past decade at Camp Nou.

Barcelona and Bayern lead the four teams left in the competition in passing, with an eerily equal completion rate of 91 percent. Barcelona has made 6,308 total passes compared to 6,230 for Bayern. Real Madrid is a distant third with 5,183.


100 PERCENT MESSI

PHOTO: FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, from Argentina, looks on during a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in San Joan Despi, Spain, Tuesday, May 5, 2015.  FC Barcelona will play against Bayern Munich in a first leg semifinal Champions League soccer match on Wednesday May 6. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, from Argentina, looks on during a training session at the Sports Center FC Barcelona Joan Gamper in San Joan Despi, Spain, Tuesday, May 5, 2015. FC Barcelona will play against Bayern Munich in a first leg semifinal Champions League soccer match on Wednesday May 6. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Barcelona's only loss in its last 32 Champions League matches at home came against Bayern in 2013, when the German side beat the hosts 3-0 to win 7-0 on aggregate in the semifinals before winning its fifth European Cup.

A right-hamstring injury had sidelined Messi for that second leg, and few expect a repeat of Bayern's demolition with Messi back to his best.

Messi, who broke both the Champions League and Spanish league scoring records this season, has scored 51 goals in all competitions, with eight coming in the Champions League.


MASKED LEWANDOWSKI

Bayern is hoping striker Robert Lewandowski will be able to play with a special mask.

Lewandowski, who suffered a concussion and fractures in his upper jaw and nasal bone in the German Cup semifinal loss to Borussia Dortmund a week ago, traveled with the team on Tuesday morning.

A bigger problem may be his shoulder and a bruised rib that are leaving the striker in pain.

In addition to long-term injures to Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, Bayern also will be missing useful midfielder Sebastian Rode, who has unspecified muscular problems.


LIMIT THE DAMAGE

Bayern's plan for the first leg will be to try to limit the damage.

The injury-depleted Bayern team is clearly placing its bets on the return leg in Munich next week.

"The semifinal must not be decided already in Barcelona," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. "Ideally, we should score a goal and try not to lose, or at least lose by a close score. I would sign immediately under a 2-1 defeat."

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