Bundesliga Champions Bayern Munich take on Ukrainian Champions Shakhtar Donetsk and the game could be an entertaining one as Shaktar are usually very good at home.
Bayern Munich are in brilliant form after a patchy start to the Ruckrunde in the Bundesliga and have won two games, including an 8-0 thrashing against Hamburg, after failing to win against Wolfsburg and Schalke.
Tactics and Probable lineups
Shakhtar’s biggest blow will be that they haven’t had competitive action in a while. The Ukraine Premier Liga resume for them on February 28th where they will take on Vorskla. Considering they haven’t played competitve football, Bayern are probably the toughest opponents they could have asked for.
Despite that, playing at home is an advantage for them and something that they’ll badly want and will have to make use of if they are to progress to the next phase. Bayern have scored 10 goals in their last two games and will take some stopping.
Shakhtar manager Mircea Lucescu usually deploys a 4-2-3-1 formation with the back four of Darijo Srna, Olexandr Kucher, Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Marcio Azevedo playing ahead of goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov. In midfield, Taras Stepanenko will miss out after picking up two yellow cards in the final two group games. As a result, we could see the duo of Fernando and Fred. Stepanenko’s absence will hurt Shakhtar as he was ever present for them in the group stages and was a key contributor for the team that just edged Bilbao to qualify for the group stages. Fred did not play for too many minutes and will want to make his chance count. The double pivot of Fernando and Fred in front of the defense will have to at their best if they Shakhtar are to neutralize the amazing talent of Bayern’s frontline.
Shakhtar’s player to watch out will definitely be Luiz Adriano who will lead the line with the trio of Douglas Costa, Alex Teixeira and Taison behind him. The Brazilian wasn’t at his best for Shakhtar in the League prior to the break after scoring just four times in 13 games, but he was in red-hot form in the UEFA Champions League. With nine goals, Adriano is ahead of the likes of Ibrahimovic, Messi and Ronaldo in European competition.
Bayern’s only potential weakness is perhaps the counterattacks and Lucescu’s team are pretty good at that. With pace up front, Shakhtar could test Bayern on the break, just like how Wolfsburg did a few weeks ago. Lucescu also has the quality of Bernard to bring on from the bench.
Probable XI: Pyatov; Darijo Srna, Olexandr Kucher, Yaroslav Rakitskiy, Marcio Azevedo; Fred, Fernando; Douglas Costa, Alex Teixeira, Taison; Adriano
As revealed earlier, Bayern have got back to their best after a poor two games since the restart of Bundesliga. They finished the group stages with 15 points and were only beaten by Manchester City after going down to 10-men. The quality of attack that Pep Guardiola possess is frightening.
After using a three at the back system in the first half of the season, Guardiola has gone back to the 4-2-3-1 formation. The effectiveness hasn’t been noted so much thus far as Bayern were winning games anyway in the beginning, but the 4-2-3-1 system does provide some extra balance to the team compared to the 3-4-3 system.
The game against Hamburg saw them score eight times with all the attackers’ names on the score sheet. Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze and Arjen Robben were Bayern’s attackers and they could play again tomorrow against Shakhtar. Arjen Robben is the club’s leading goalscorer with 16 goals and Azevedo will certainly have his hands full against the Dutchman. Robert Lewandowski hasn’t had the season that everyone expected of him and he could play wide once again like he did against Hamburg. Guardiola could bring on Franck Ribery if things aren’t happening.
In the midfield, David Alaba is expected to partner Bastian Schweinsteiger. Alaba likes going forward, so Schweinsteiger will have to provide the cover for the defense which hasn’t been great in defending counterattacks. Jerome Boateng, in particular, has been exposed a few times after being sent off against Manchester City and Schalke in moves leading to counter attacks after making rash challenges being the last man. That could be Bayern’s biggest concern. Boateng is expected to come back into the lineup after missing out in the league game and is expected to partner Mehdi Benatia with Juan Bernat and Rafinha as the full backs.
- Bayern have scored 10 goals in their last two games and have conceded none.
- Luiz Adriano has nine goals so far in the UEFA Champions League and has a minute per goal ratio of 50.
- Shakhtar have a good record against Bundesliga teams with three wins and one loss in their last four home games.
- Bayern don’t have the best of records in Ukraine with one win and one draw in five games.
Bayern look too strong for Shakhtar whose lack of competitive action could hurt them in the end. If Bayern score early, it could get nasty for Lucescu’s men. Shakhtar have to score first if they are to win the game as Bayern chasing the game is probably the best way to unsettle them.
Full-time score: Shakhtar 1-3 Bayern