The resurgent french team Lyon will look to go “one step closer” to the coveted Champions League trophy, as they take on German giants Bayern Munich. However, it would have been a very tiring road journey to the German capital for the Frenchmen, thanks to the air traffic chaos caused by the volcanic ash. Lyon borrowed ten mini vans to make the trip via Stuttgart, and the seven hour journey would leave the players in need of some rest. Arjen Robben and Bayern Munich, also occasionally called as “FC Hollywood”, will have to go all guns blazing against a very stubborn Olympique Lyonnais. The German side was not expected to be at this stage at the outset, especially after their group stage performances; however, they have managed to silence their critics, and another solid performance in the semifinal legs will give them a a chance to compete in the final in Madrid.
Controversies surround the match, with allegations against french star Frank Ribery and Lyon’s Sidney Govou connecting them with an underage prostitution ring in Paris. The French Football Federation (FFF) has insisted that Ribery and his France team-mate Sidney Govou, who has also been called before a judge in Paris as a result of the investigation into the alleged sex scandal, must be presumed innocent at this stage. Ribery and Govou are important players for their respective clubs, and with their conscience on the battlefront, it would be tough for them to concentrate on the match. Lyon have also been mired in the controversy surrounding the postponement of a Ligue 1 fixture, which has angered their German opponents. The French footballing authorities have agreed for Les Gones’ match with Monaco, originally scheduled for 24th April, to be postponed to May, to give them the best opportunity of advancing to the Champions League final.
F. C. BAYERN MUNCHEN
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Bayern Munich, after a slow start to the season, have caught up with the top flight and are now looking to complete a treble this season. They go into the match after a thumping 7-0 victory over Hannover in the Bundesliga. The funny thing about Bayern is that throughout the season, they have come back from precarious positions to emerge victorious. They were left in the group stages in a must win scenario away at Juve, and the manner in which they humbled the host left everyone astonished. Similarly in the last round, they found themselves behind 4-2 on aggregate heading into the final 45 minutes of their return leg at Old Trafford, only to go through on away goals thanks to Ivica Olić and last minute heroics by Arjen Robben. The route taken by Bayern to the semis can only make one wonder if they are destined for their fifth European glory.
The worry list for FCB coach Louis Van Gaal include the absence of captain Mark Van Bommel and young defender Holger Badstuber. Danijel Pranjić, after a good game against United, will look in to fill the gap left by Van Bommel, with youngster Diego Armando Contento expecting to get the nod for Badstuber’s place.
Predicted Starting XI:
P. Lahm – D. van Buyten – M. Demichellis – D. Contento
A. Robben – D. Pranjic – B. Schweinsteiger – F. Ribery
I. Olic – M. Klose
Player to watch out for: Arjen Robben, the Dutch winger has proven his importance for the FCB time and again this season, and his scintillating form throughout the season has been a serious concern for his oppositions. The ability to produce magic in crunch situations makes him stand in a league of his own. He goes into the match with a hat-trick against Hannover last week, boosting his already strong confidence.
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Lyon was supposed to struggle to get out of a group that included Liverpool and Fiorentina, but did so with relative ease. Real Madrid was going to brush the French aside in the round of sixteen, but Lyon progressed after two terrific performances. Standing in its way next was Bordeaux, defending Ligue 1 champion and the stingiest defensive team in the Champions League; but Bordeaux wouldn’t disagree either, if one says Lyon have proved to be much more than the underdogs which many considered them to be. So while many expect the contest to be one sided, don’t discount Lyon, for they have certainly proven they can overcome the big guns of Europe.
The biggest challenge for Lyon is to see how its fullbacks, Aly Cissokho on the left and Anthony Reveillere on the right, deal with Robben and Ribery, respectively. Robben’s menace on the wing will likely have the added effect of limiting Cissokho’s ability to join the attack. Defender Jean-Alain Boumsong is unavailable due to a calf injury, while Cameroonian midfielder Jean Il Makoun is being plagued by a groin trouble. Additionally, Mathieu Bodmer is likely to miss the match due to a hamstring injury.
Predicted Starting XI:
A.Reveillere – Cris – J. Toulalan – A. Cissokho
M. Gonalons – K. Kallstrom
Ederson – M. Pjanic – C. Delgado
Player to watch out for: Hugo Lloris, one of the hottest keepers in Europe, will need to be on his game again to justify why he is a target for big clubs and the tag “Saint Lloris” given to him by the media. Defense would be the key for the french team, and Lloris will have to hold his fort in Munich against the dominant Robben and company.
TheHardTackle Match Prediction
Bayern Munich 2-1 Lyon