FC Bayern Munich
15 April, 2015, 20.00 BST
Estadio Do Dragao
FC Bayern Munich travel to Porto to face former winners FC Porto at the Estadio Do Dragao for the first-leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. The visitors are the favorites to return with an away goal advantage, but injuries have left the German Champions without their key attackers which gives tenacious Porto side a chance to record a surprise victory . The two sides clash for the first time since the quarterfinals of Champions League in 2000 which Bayern won under dramatic circumstances. Pep Guardiola will come up against a familiar face Julen Lopetegui who has been his teammate at national level with Spain and at club level with Barcelona. The duo also watched the match between Barcelona and Man City together last month together in Camp Nou. Porto have been in the news recently with their right-back Danilo signing for Real Madrid for a big sum of 31 million Euros. Both the teams have been in great form in their respective leagues with Porto sitting second in the Primeira Liga standings 3 points behind Benfica and Bayern are the runaway leaders in the Bundesliga by a 10 point difference. Lets look at the team news on both the sides ahead of Wednesdaya s match.
Team News & Tactical Brief
Julen Lopeteguia s men have been able to mount a considerable title challenge domestically to Benfica as they are just 3 point behind the leaders in the Portuguese top flight. Barring the cup elimination against Maritimo earlier this month, the Drag es have been in good flow dispatching domestic sides Estoril and Rio Ave with ease. They are the only undefeated side in the last eight of the Champions League, all credits to their fine attacking department. They are the second highest in the number of goals scored two less than Bayern Munich who scored 23 in the competition so far. Yacine Brahimi and Jackson Martinez have been the shining talents of the competition attracting interest from numerous big clubs. Former Real Madrid man Casemiro have developed into a fine holding midfielder under Julen Lopetegui and will face his former teammate Xabi Alonso on Wednesday night. Full-backs Danilo and Sandro have been playing key role in Portoa s attack with their tireless running and are likely to test the Bayern defence with their crosses. Club captain Jackson Martinez is back in training but Lopetegui have confirmed that he along with Spanish forward Cristian Tello, will not feature against Bayern. Central defender Ivan Marcano is suspended for the tie after getting booked in the 4-0 victory against FC Basel and Dutch defender Bruno-Martins Indi likely to fill in for him. The home fans will expect their team to beat Bayern just like the 1987 final in Vienna where they were the underdogs against a dominant Bayern Munich.
Probable Lineups:(4-3-3): Fabiano; Danilo, Maicon, Martins Indi, Alex Sandro; Herrera, Casemiro, Oliver Torres; Quaresma, Aboubakar, Brahimi
Pep Guardiolaa s men are walking on a tightrope with a packed schedule and a string of injuries to deal with. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mehdi Benatia are the new additions to the long list of injured regulars. The German was withdrawn in the match against Borussia Dortmund amid injury concerns and has been sidelined for the past one week. Benatia is picked up a hamstring injury in the match against Bayer Leverkusen and set to miss a minimum of two weeks of action. Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, David Alaba and Javi Martinez are the other important absentees for the match against Porto. The German Champions have never lost on Portuguese soil and only lost once to a Portuguese side which was FC Porto in the final of 1987 European Cup where Porto staged a remarkable comeback in Vienna. Bayern named just four substitutes on bench against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, but still put on a solid display which showed that they can cope without their chief attacking outlets . Philipp Lahm and Thiago Alcantara could start on Wednesday despite returning from injuries very recently. Jerome Boateng is also likely to be back in the starting XI after being rested for the match against Frankfurt. Though Bayern still has a lot of quality in their side, Porto will look to unlock the channels through Ricardo Quaresma and Yacine Brahimi who have been in great form in the absence of Jackson Martinez. Bayern also has to keep a check on the two fullbacks Danilo and Sandro from making dangerous overlapping runs. Guardiola has gone with a defensive set up of 3-5-2 with Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski leading the line in the past 3 matches and one can expect the same from the Catalan on Wednesday.
Probable Lineups: (3-5-2): Neuer; Rafinha, Dante, Boateng; Rode, Lahm, Alonso, Thiago, Bernat; Muller, Lewandowski
Players to Watch Out
The full-back has been in the news after signing for Real Madrid last month and his performances for his current employers have only improved ever since. He even scored in the previous two league victories against Rio Ave and Estoril which proves he is capable of scoring goals too. He offers a fine outlet in attack with his pace and can defend with equal efficiency. Without the searing runs of Franck Ribery, Juan Bernat will have an additional responsibility of facing the highly rated Brazilian which will be a test for Bernat. The 23-year old has already proved himself at the international level by regularly featuring for Brazil under Dunga and he has Europea s biggest stage to prove his hefty price tag.
There is no doubt in saying that Thomas Muller has been the most consistent performer for Bayern in the past few seasons in the Champions League. He is Bayerna s top scorer in Europe this season with 5 goals which include 4 penalties which is tournamenta s highest from the spot. His unorthodox approach to be in right place at the right time makes him very dangerous inside the box and his link up play with Lewandowski this season has been a joy to watch. Portuguese fans will definitely remember him for his hat trick against their country at the World Cup in Brazil. Porto have to be wary of the German if they wish to advance to the semi-finals for the first time since the 2008/09 season.
Bayern Munich 1-0 FC Porto
Though Bayern are without their main attacking duo Ribery and Robben alongside several other key players, they came out with positive results in the past week in the German Cup and Bundesliga as well. Wednesday’s match will not be easy for the Bavarian giants as the Estadio Do Dragao is known for its atmosphere and the home fans will be totally behind their team to make it difficult for the visiting team. But having looked at the current campaign, Pep Guardiola has made sure his side didn’t repeat last season’s mistakes and look confident to come out of the clash with a precious away goal advantage.
Blast From The Past
Bayern were the overwhelming favourites to win the 1987 European Cup Final against first time finalists FC Porto held in Vienna. Current Bayern chairman Karl-heinz Rummenigge’s brother Michael, was part of the Bayern attack which dominated the domestic top flight much like the current team. Everybody wrote off Porto predicting an easy victory for Bayern. As presumed, the Munich side dominated the proceedings with Ludwig kogl scoring the opener to put them 1-0 ahead in the 25th minute. In the 77th minute, Porto striker Rabah Madjer etched his name in the club’s history with a backheel finish to pull things level for the underdogs. It was again the relentless Madjer’s cross that found Brazilian Filho Juary to score the winner from close range sealing off a dramatic comeback for Porto. There was another Champions League victory for Porto in 2004, but the victory in Vienna that landed their first continental trophy is still fondly remembered by the Drag es faithful.