The wheel of the group stage is one that is critical for a club's advancement out of the group. Outside of qualification and some domestic cup formats, it is the only time that two teams meet each other in a month's time.
In 2009, Bayern dug themselves into a hole in the group stage after two consecutive losses to Girondins de Bordeaux, and needs victories against Juventus and Maccabi Haifa to advance. Since then, Bayern have dropped just two points in the wheel, which has set them up for their European resurgence.
This one might be the toughest of recent seasons, going up against an AS Roma team that is having a renaissance themselves. Their style of play is one that could rip Bayern to shreds, although their inconsistent nature lowers the chances of that happening. The two teams have met only twice before, which adds an enigmatic element to what is a fascinating matchup.
The Match (3rd Meeting)
Location: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy
Head: Jonas Erikson
FC Bayern: 1 W, 0 D, 0 L – 1 YC
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming:
US: Fox Soccer Plus. Fox Soccer 2Go, ESPN 3
Canada: Sportsnet One, Sportsbet World Now
UK: Sky Sports 1 | HD, Sky Go
Germany: SRF zwei, Sky Go Deutschland
FC Bayern: WWWWW
AS Roma: WLDWW
UEFA Champions League: 1 W, 0 D, 1 L
The defensive barricade that Bayern have showcased has kept their supremacy in both domestic and international competition. The attacking side of the game lagged behind for a bit, but that has changed quickly in the last five matches.
Bayern have scored 17 goals in the last five matches, the attacking front of Mario Götze, Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller, and Arjen Robben combining for 18 goals in all competition. To go along with a defense that has not allowed goal in 748 minutes, that makes Bayern the club in the highest form in Europe.
Whether Bayern can extrapolate their success in Europe is yet to be seen. They escaped their matches against Manchester City and CSKA Moskva with 1-0 victories, giving them an unconvincing six points in Group E. Their recent rekindling of from could change that quickly, and their 550 mile trip to Rome will be their easiest in the group stage.
Mehdi Benatia will get to go up against his former team now that he has returned to full fitness. The combination of him and Jérôme Boateng will be the perfect antidote for the pace Roma plays with, able to recover and clear the ball on a dime. Juan Bernat could easily get a run-in with David Alaba picking up a knock, but either will have their hands full with Maicon overlapping.
Tuesday will be a great litmus test for where Bayern's form against the top sides are, an important marker going into a tough stretch of matches.
Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Mario Götze – Thomas Müller – Arjen Robben
Xabi Alonso – Philipp Lahm
Juan Bernat – Jérôme Boateng – Mehdi Benatia – Rafinha
Bench: Tom Starke, Dante, David Alaba, Sebastian Rode, Xherdan Shaqiri, Franck Ribéry, Claudio Pizarro
Roma has managed to concoct a Jekyll-and-Hyde formula with their team, and yet whatever team shows up manages to get the points necessary.
Rudi Garcia has developed an arsenal of interchangeable players that can keep his team's form at a high level. Alessandro Florenzi and Mattia Destro are developing into exciting Italian prospects, with veterans Gervinho and Francesco Totti using their experience to provide Roma with a clever attack.
The issue is that only two teams have tested Roma at the highest level – Manchester City and Juventus – and they managed to only hold up in one of them. That begs the question of whether this quickly surging club has the chops to match up with the big boys.
The Benatia transfer left Garcia with a very inexperienced defense, although Ashley Cole's presence has helped it through some adversity. They remain stout and physical, but can be exposed to concentration lapses and positioning errors. The return of Davide Astori from injury will add good "elder" influence, although Daniele De Rossi will not do as well of a job shielding the center of defense as the injured Seydou Kiéta would.
Roma has showed the patience it takes to unravel a club of Bayern's power, but that could depend on which team shows up to defend the home ground.
Projected Lineup (4-3-3):
Gervinho – Francesco Totti – Adem Ljajić
Radja Nainggolan – Daniele De Rossi – Miralem Pjanić
Ashley Cole – Davide Astori – Konstantinos Manolas – Maicon
Martin De Sanctis
Bench: Name, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Vascilis Torosidis, Salih Uçan, Leandro Paredes, Alessandro Florenzi, Mattia Destro
Of all the bouts Bayern have to face in this years group of death, this one could be the most exciting. Bayern's temperate style will be matched up with the precision of Roma's buildup play. The difference maker could be Benatia, his jersey swap fortifying one team while leaving the other exposed. Bayern's attack will eventually find a way through, but Roma will not go down without a fight.