Juventus Stadium, Turin
10th April 2013, 18 45 GMT
The past week or so has been nothing short of amazing for everyone associated with Bayern Munich. Starting off with a 9-2 obliteration of Hamburg, followed by a quality first leg display against Juventus and finally culminating in a Bundesliga title triumph on Saturday, the last week has shown the world just how dangerous this Bayern side really are.
Their opponents this week, and the club they outshone last week, have been equally commendable in Serie A this season and in Europe up until the loss last Tuesday. Juventus also have the league more or less wrapped up but are in a deep pit in the Champions League. Not only did they lose via the scoreline last week, but also on the team sheet and more importantly, mentally. The horrors of UEFA’s suspension rules that affected Bayern last year have returned to haunt Juventus this time around and has possibly sealed this tie already.
Arguments against the death of this tie will undoubtedly be brought up after what Bayern pulled off against Arsenal in the last round. However, rather than falling prey to their own over confidence once again, that loss should act as an eye opener, a wake-up call for the Bavarian giants. Juventus are a great side and one of the few capable of over turning this monstrous lead that Bayern have, but it is going to take an effort all the more monstrous if they wish to pull off one of the most remarkable comebacks in European history and progress to the next round.
Team News and Tactical Brief
Yet another manager faces the wrath of UEFA’s suspension rules. Antonio Conte will have to make do without two of his most influential players for the second leg, Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner, both of whom picked up yellow cards in the first leg. Replacing Vidal will be the highly promising Paul Pogba while Lichtsteiner’s replacement isn’t a certainty. Conte has two options, Simone Padoin and Mauricio Isla, neither in the same league as his first-choice right wing back.
The first leg brought out a side of Juventus that many haven’t seen after Conte took over. Sluggish, clueless and completely outclassed, the likes of Claudio Marchisio, Andrea Barzagli and Gianluigi Buffon were mere shadows of their usually brilliant selves. Juventus were on the back foot throughout the game and things have to change this time around, especially for Marchisio. Being their main attacking outlet in midfield, his drop in form greatly affects the team. Bayern will still be a tough cookie to break but Marchisio’s ability can take Juventus a long distance.
As always, Andrea Pirlo will hold the key for Juventus but if Mario Mandzukic puts in yet another stellar performance, the 33-year-old Italian’s seasoned legs may not be enough. Pirlo is no stranger to these magnificent European nights and will have to pull out every trick under his sleeve in this second leg.
Mirko Vucinic should replace Alessandro Matri in attack and should provide a lot more both physically and in terms of skill. The unpredictability of Vucinic might take Bayern by surprise, be it for good or bad. Fabio Quagliarela should keep his spot as the other striker.
Probable starting line-up(3-5-2): Buffon(GK); Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Padoin, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Peluso; Quagliarela, Vucinic
The only injury worry for Jupp Heynckes will be Toni Kroos, who picked up a knock in the first leg and is ruled out for the season. To the joy of Bayern fans and the dismay of the Juventus faithful, Javi Martinez will be back from suspension for the second leg and should replace Luis Gustavo in midfield.
Kroos’ injury could prompt Heynckes to alter things a little bit, using both Mario Gomez and Mandzukic, the latter in a more withdrawn role. Rather than playing as a creative player, Mandzukic will look to do what he did so well in Munich, destroy Juventus’ possession in defence. With the hosts preferring to build from deep positions, Mandzukic’s deployment in this role could close the tie early on and the use of Gomez can get Bayern that game-ending away goal.
Philipp Lahm has been in scintillating form off late and his forward forays will haunt Peluso for a second time. With more than ten assists to his name this season, Lahm has been one of Bayern’s most potent yet underrated attacking forces. On the opposite side will be David Alaba, Bayern’s buccaneering left back and the scorer of the first goal from last week. Lichtsteiner’s absence will only make things easier for Alaba on Wednesday and more or less decides this tie.
Probable starting line-up(4-2-2-2): Neuer(GK); Lahm, Van Buyten, Dante, Alaba; Martinez, Schweinsteiger; Müller, Ribery; Mandzukic, Gomez
Players to watch out for
Mirko Vucinic (Juventus): Probably the most inconsistent player on the Juventus roster but also among the most talented in the world. Vucinic brings an incredible amount of skill onto the playing field and a good night could easily result in him bagging a brace and shifting things strongly in favor of the Old Lady.
Dante (Bayern Munich): Bayern might start on the back foot, especially since they’re playing away and have a two-goal lead already. With this in mind, their Brazilian rock will be the most crucial figure in keeping Juventus’ attacks at bay and ensuring that the Bavarians inch closer to their dreams of a treble.
Juventus 1 – 1 Bayern Munich
Juventus will go all out in this fixture and should reap some benefits for their efforts. Unfortunately for the Italian champions, this isn’t going to be enough. Bayern shouldn’t find it all that hard to muster a goal come Wednesday and that alone should finish the quarter final tie.
Blast from the past