In football, as in life, possession is nine tenths of the law.
Unless the match in question is a Champions League semi-final that pits Barcelona against their former manager Josep Guardiola’s FC Bayern Munchen that is.
In such a rarefied case it could be foreseen that monopolisation of the ball comes much closer to the totality of the undertaking.
Barca are still operating in the training-ground-tiki-taka-honed image of their modern architect, with an emphasis on suffocating ball retention.
Under Guardiola’s sometime Blaugrana teammate Luis Enrique they’ve averaged 70% or more possession in five of their last six domestic outings.
However, the downturn in domination that has been evident in recent Camp Nou clashes against Champions League opposition suggests they must be opposed as 1/2 favourites to win the battle for custody of the ball against FC Bayern.
The Bavarians, 7/5 to dominate possession at Camp Nou, top the competition’s ball-retention stats, hogging a mean 65.9% an outing.
Barca sit second in the standings on 63.6% and the gap between the sides’ averages becomes wider when only their respective home and away showings are considered.
When purely matches in the Catalan capital are considered the Blaugrana’s mean possession drops to 61.5%.
Indeed, their 2-0 home win over Paris Saint-Germain in the previous round saw it drop to a positively mortal 56.8%.
The recent visit of Real Madrid saw Barca’s ball-hoggery drop even further, to just 2% above the meridian.
By contrast Bayern’s attitude to monopolisation of the Champions League orb barely seems to alter on the road, with their percentage dropping but a fraction, to 65.7%.
Even in the Estadio do Dragao defeat against Porto they appropriated a sizeable 68.5%, suggesting Guardiola’s side don’t even have to be playing at their best to stand a chance of landing the 7/5.
Barcelona are an identical price to chisel an advantage from the first leg with victory, with the draw a 3/1 shot and the FC Bayern victory priced up a 4/1.