The tables are tight in the UEFA Champions League, and nowhere more than in Group F: Bayern, BATE, and Valencia are all level on 6 points, with Lille yet to earn a single point. In the return leg, Bayern will host Les Dogues in ...
Match Day 4 of the 2012-2013 UEFA Champions League Group Stage. Bayern controlled a majority of the possession and got the win in the first match-up, but the outcome was far from a dominant one (due to some Bayern sluggishness and some rough-house tactics from Lille).
In one of the previous comment threads, Grudnik and others had some good information on player availability. My current understanding is that Kroos and Mandzukic are questionable with illness problems, while Badstuber and Gomez are nearing match-readiness but still won't be back for tomorrow. The back 4 from the recent win over Hamburg will probably not undergo any changes, unless I missed something; Badstuber's return is the only thing that could upset the apple cart as far as defenders. Rafinha and Contento are solid, and can stand in if they need to, but I think Alaba - Dante - Boateng - Lahm have earned a bit of confidence.
Here's my guess:
Ribery - Müller - Robben
Martinez - Schweinsteiger
Alaba - Dante - Boateng - Lahm
Gustavo has played well, and Kroos (if over his stomach bug) is certainly an option. This is just my hunch.
I don't get some of the consternation over Pizarro's play. In relatively limited minutes, he's generally done OK up top. You couldn't expect him to have 5 or 6 goals by this point in the season when he plays limited minutes, but I don't think he will be overpowered by Lille's back line. Keep in mind he had 18 goals for Werder last year. And he has enough muscle to fight through fouls if Lille wants to play the hack-and-grab game.
Although they're having a rather inauspicious year across all competitions, Lille has won 3 straight after the last Bayern match (1 in their cup competition, 2 in Ligue UUUUUnnn). And over the last 6 matches (including that Bayern match we saw), Lille has allowed only 3 goals overall.
In the last match, Mathieu Debuchy, the versatile right back was out. He's now available, though, and will probably be tasked with marking Ribery. And Salomon Kalou was a healthy scratch for Les Dogues' recent league win, meaning they probably wanted to keep him fresh to face Bayern.
Lille pretty much has to decide what they want to do: sit back and letting us control possession, and then looking to counter (what they did last time); or fight for possession and get their 3-man midfield up and challenging our 2 CDMs (and give Bayern's deadly attacking-middie line a chance to slip behind them). I don't know why, but I have a gut feeling they might try to come out and fight with us. Which would increase the likelihood of Bayern getting more chances, but also requires Bastian and [whoever] to be alert and to aggressively mark their men and sabotage the Lille attack.
- The match kicks off at 8:45 PM Munich time. See below to see the match time in your current zone (you may need to click the AM/PM button).
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
- Pretty good day for German sides today in CL play. A little disappointing to see Dortmund blow a late lead, but still - both S04 and Dortmund came away with points, and both are atop their groups. Things are still wide open in many groups, though, with several traditional powers not at all assured of passing through to the next stage.
- They're calling for a chance of rain tomorrow across Germany. It won't be cold enough for snow, but it might be cool, breezy, and possibly wet. If that's the case, it might help LOSC (if they're going to try to slow down the match). Then again, you could argue that a draw does Lille no good, so maybe they're not in the mood to slow it down.
We'll be here tomorrow with a Match Day Thread, then back afterwards with a recap and highlights. As always, thanks for reading.