Pitchside Europe

Kluivert: Bayern may be favourites, but Barcelona can win back their crown

It may not surprise you, given his history as a player, but Patrick Kluivert fancies Barcelona’s chances of winning back the Champions League.

Kluivert, who scored 120 goals in 255 appearances over six years for the Catalan club, watched Barca’s 2-0 win in the first leg of their last-16 tie at Manchester City last week from the comfort of Heineken’s famous #ShareTheSofa furniture in Amsterdam.

And though the 2011 European champions would go on to be frustrated by Chelsea in 2012 and downright humbled by Bayern Munich in 2013, Kluivert saw enough about their disciplined performance on the road to suggest they are ready to learn from their mistakes and rise to the top of the continent once more.

“Yes, as a former Barcelona player I was very pleased to see them build such a strong advantage,” he told Eurosport-Yahoo!’s Liam Happe at the Heineken Experience tourist attraction.

“I actually predicted 1-3 Barcelona for this game before the Share The Sofa event began, so I had it half-right with the prediction of a two-goal first-leg win.

“They did a really good job. Now they can look forward to the second leg in their own stadium, at Camp Nou.

“I know Barca aren’t associated with typical ‘away game jobs’, but that’s what they came to do and they did just that.

“They looked very good nonetheless, but the important thing was that they were patient and it got them the result, a good result.”

Though Kluivert feels Barcelona have what it takes to win a fifth European crown, he is well aware of the task they would face if they do again come up against defending titlists Bayern.

Does he think they can do what nobody else can, and what Kluivert and his Ajax team-mates almost did in the mid-1990s – successfully defend the Champions League?

If anyone can finally do it, it’s this Munich side, he says.

“I think Bayern Munich could win the Champions League again,” he explained.

“Barcelona have a small chance of winning it back, based on what we saw against City, but I think Bayern could become the first team to retain the trophy.

“They are doing a great job at the moment, and as someone who was part of a team who came so close to retaining the trophy (Ajax won the Champions League in 1995, but lost the 1996 final to Juventus), I think I know a little bit about the subject!

As for City themselves, who face a monumental task if they’re to reach the quarter-finals now, former Premier League forward Kluivert believes their day of European glory will eventually come – just not yet.

“From the beginning, we saw City dropping back very deep on their own pitch,” he said of their performance. “That’s one thing you do at your own risk, when it comes to Barcelona.

“When Chelsea did it two years ago, they were a lot more confident and keen to snap forward and it worked. Bayern last year simply went at them and destroyed them.

“But you didn’t see either of those very different gameplans from City. They did not seem sure of how they wanted to approach the game.

“A lot of that does come down to experience in these fixtures, definitely. I look at their squad and I feel they will get there. But it will take time. Their time is not now, at least not in Europe.”

The next UCL legend to be taking over the @Heineken twitter handle will be Fernando Hierro, send him your questions during Wednesday night’s Shalke 04 vs Real Madrid first-leg.

To submit a question to for a UCL legend, simply follow @Heineken, confirm you’re over the age of 18 and send in your question during the match with the hashtag #ShareTheSofa.

[BEHIND THE SCENES OF HEINEKEN'S #SHARETHESOFA EXPERIENCE]