In what is possibly the tie of the round, Bayern are set to host Italian champions Juventus in the first leg of their quarterfinal matchup in the Champions League.
Juventus arrive in Germany on an 18-match unbeaten run in all European competitions, and are still emotionally charged after a controversial victory over rivals Inter Milan in league play that put them even closer to their 29th Serie A title.
Their victory did not come free of charge, however, as Sebastian Giovinco is doubtful with an ankle injury caused by a late challenge from Inter's Esteban Cambiasso, who was immediately shown a red card for his actions.
Though not because of injury, Bayern will also be missing a key to their domestic and European success this season. Javi Martinez is on a yellow card suspension and will be forced to watch the match in the tribune with Uli Hoeneß and the rest of the board.
In Bayern's most recent match against Hamburg, likely Martinez replacement Luiz Gustavo was played at left back instead of David Alaba, who received a minor injury in the final training session before the match. The usual replacement is career Bayern player Diego Contento, but he was in the hospital attending to his girlfriend who was giving birth. While putting in a solid performance during the seven-goal victory, his current form in the midfield is relatively unknown because of the recent international break, although he will likely not be a concern given his track record against Munich's better opponents.
The all-time foreign-born leading scorer in Bundesliga history put in an historic performance against HSV, netting four goals and passing his way to a pair of assists. More amazing still, is that Claudio Pizarro had not scored in Bundesliga play prior to the match. With the "Pizza Man" coming off the performance of a lifetime, it will be interesting to see which player Jupp Heynckes plays at the lone striker position. It would appear as if there's no wrong move here, as Jupp's other options are the leading scorer in league play, Mario Mandzukic, and Mario Gomez, who is known for his effectiveness in the UCL. Gomez, however, is coming off of a thigh strain sustained while training with the German national team that caused him to miss the two matches against Kazakhstan, and he may not be fit for 90 minutes of football.
The general consensus is that this match will be won or lost in the midfield. The two teams are both regarded as having one of the top-five midfields in the world, and you can bet that both managers are paying special attention to that area of the pitch.
Some are suggesting that Juventus will switch to a 3-5-1-1 formation that would put an additional midfielder in the team to give playmaker Andrea Pirlo more options on the ball, as well as serving to bolster the team's defensive prospects against the record-shattering Bayern attack.
Die Roten will have Schweinsteiger in the defensive midfield for sure, and it looks like Gustavo will in all likelihood join him. That said, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk is usually very solid against Europe's top sides, and is a more defensive player than Gustavo. Should Bayern's tactics at any point be defensively oriented, look for the Ukrainian to come on during either of the two legs.
Both teams had league matches over the weekend that played very loose, with plenty of attacking. If Italian teams have set a precedent worldwide, it's that they will put not conceding ahead of scoring more times than not. For this reason, and because the stakes are so high at this stage of the competition, I think much of the good that took place in Bayern's 9-2 drubbing of Hamburg may need to be overlooked for this one match. Juve will play a tight formation and a tight match that will focus on making the most of the counter attack while not leaving themselves open going the other way. Bayern need to take note of this because this year's team has a serious problem defending counter-attacks. Even against lesser competition, some of the most perilous moments for the Bayern back line has come when FCB was actually taking a set piece of their own on the other side of the field.
Also of particular concern for the Bavarians is avoiding the lapses in concentration that so nearly cost them appearing in this round in the first place during the second leg against Arsenal. This is a phenomenon that has gone on for a time under Heynckes, and in a more pronounced fashion at home in the Allianz Arena. Even in the 9-2 victory on Saturday, Dante was caught ball-watching on a corner that allowed HSV to score. Minutes later, nobody was guarding the post and Hamburg scored a second, also from a corner. That shouldn't take away from the brilliant performance that did take place, but it's those things, that as a Bayern fan, keep enforcing the solid grey cloak of skepticism and realism that is a part of our lives when following this team- Repeated mistakes and little lapses tend to cause our biggest problems.
Where: Allianz Arena (UEFA says it's the Fußball Arena München); Munich, GER.
When: The usual UCL start time, that's 20:45 on your Bavarian clock, and 2:45 p.m. EST in the Americas.
Referee: Mark Clattenburg, England. He officiated the 7-0 vs. Basel last year.
-I really hope the ultras in the Südkurve aren't protesting something again by not showing up. It makes them and us look bad.
-Can we please wear the black kits again? They were designed for the UCL and I bought one and don't' feel I've gotten my money's worth from the team. Also, I don't want to go back to the red ones in this competition. There are just too many bad memories there. Far, far too many bad memories indeed.
-If we get a favorable referee's decision, just wait for the Juve fans to point out that "Clattenburg" sounds like a German last name. You know it's coming.
-Bastian's new haircut is a marked downgrade.
-If Robben plays like he did against HSV, we will win.
-We win the Bundesliga with a victory against Eintracht Frankfurt next week, and that means another grand Meisterfeir!
-Borussia Dortmund are just as much the champions of German football today as they were last May, in Jürgen Klopp's eyes. This despite the massive crevasse between BVB and the Rekordmeisters.
-Be sure to count how many times the English-language commentary team mentions the events of May 19th, 2012 during the broadcast. And by "The events of May 19th, 2012" I mean FCB II's loss to Stuttgart Kickers, of course.
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