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Memorable Monday: Finely Balanced Round of 16 UEFA Champions League Ties

In light of this week's upcoming crucial encounter against Shakhtar, this might be a good time to look at Bayern's UEFA Champions League history. This week, we travel backwards to take a look at some of Bayern's lesser remembered but finely poised (either a one goal difference or a draw after the first leg) Round of 16 ties. I would like to remind you that the Round of 16 started in 2003-04.

Lars Baron/Getty Images

The European Cup became the UEFA Champions League in the 1992-93 season. However, Bayern did not witness the new format until 1994 because they did not participate in either 1992-93 or 1993-94. Thus, we start our journey in 1994-95.

1994-95**: A rather embarrassing group stage was the cue for a close Quarterfinal tie. Two wins against Dynamo Kyiv were their only victories (wins were worth two points then) in the group phase; they finished six points behind Paris Saint-Germain. In today's system, however, the points gap would have been ten. They drew IFK Göteborg in the first knockout round and only managed a 0-0 draw at home. In Sweden, Tony Scheuer saw red after 20 minutes. (Scheuer incidentally made only 20 appearances for Bayern). The odds were stacked against them. Yet, with ten men in Sweden, Bayern did much better than with 11 in Munich, scoring twice in the second half through Alex Zickler and (gasp) Christian Nerlinger! Göteborg equalized twice but Bayern got away with it, only to be thrashed by Ajax in the Netherlands in the next round.

2003-04: Bayern advanced past the group stages this time but, unfortunately, a Real Madrid side still containing quite a few Galacticos stood in their way. Perhaps a better picture of that team can be given by looking at the group standings. Lyon, growing under the ownership of Jean-Michel Aulas, took on Bayern in the group stages and managed to take four points off them. Although the Bavarians progressed, they did so with only nine points in the bag behind the French giants. The group otherwise contained Celtic and Anderlecht; not progressing was simply not an option. Yet, things came down to the final day; Bayern had Lyon to thank for beating Celtic while they beat Anderlecht courtesy of a Roy Makaay penalty.

In the following round in Munich, Real Madrid took an away goal from there but the tie was still evenly poised. In Spain, they won 1-0, sending Bayern out of the competition.

2005-06: A much improved Bayern team with Michael Ballack at the heart of it progressed with 13 points behind Juventus into the Round of 16. Waiting there was none other than AC Milan. In the first leg, Ballack's lead was canceled out by Andriy Shevchenko's penalty, leaving the tie finely poised. Yet, what was about to follow was somewhat embarrassing for a club of Bayern's stature. Shevchenko and Pippo Inzaghi gave Milan a 2-0 lead. Although Valerian Ismael responded, Bayern went on to concede two more through Inzaghi and Kaka, losing 5-2 on aggregate.

2006-07: Bayern and Real were both figuring out their ways; not quite at the peak of their powers, they played each other in the Round of 16. Real led comfortably, 3-1, in the first leg until the 88th minute, when Mark Van Bommel (Oh!) scored a wonderful goal. Bayern went to Munich at 3-2 and within minutes, turned the tie around. Roy Makaay's strike after 10.1 seconds on the clock and a second half Lucio goal rendered Ruud Van Nistelrooy's penalty unimportant. Unfortunately, Milan waited in the next round.

2009-10: Fiorentina was coming to town; the Allianz Arena prepared itself and Arjen Robben gave the fans a gift when he converted from the penalty spot to give Bayern a 1-0 lead just before half time. Fiorentina equalized in the second half through Per Kroldrup. The Bavarians searched for their second goal but the Italians gave them plenty to think about. Then, in the final minute, a refereeing blunder came to Bayern's rescue. In the 89th minute, Miroslav Klose, roughly a million miles offside (think of New York as being the offside line and Klose being in California) found the ball and scored. Bayern had their luck and their advantage. A nervy second leg was on the way.

Elimination was on the cards shortly before the hour mark in Italy as Juan Manuel Vargas and Stevan Jovetic gave the Italians the lead. A moment of magic from Van Bommel somewhat changed the tie. He passed the ball into goal from considerable distance, giving Bayern a lifeline. Yet, the Bavarians could have been forgiven for giving up when Jovetic (hint of offside) scored again four minutes later. It was left to firefighter Arjen Robben to score a thunderbolt to gift Bayern the tie on away goals and take them, with those thunderbolts, all the way to the final.

2010-11: Aside from a missed season in 2007-08 (UEFA Cup), Bayern did somewhat well in the Champions League, getting to the last eight each time between 2006-07 and between 2009-10. Their last exit however made history for all the wrong reasons, becoming only the second team to be knocked out after winning the first leg away from home. Bayern went to Italy in the Round of 16 and won 0-1 courtesy of a late Mario Gomez strike against Inter. At home, Samuel Eto'o equaled the tie (a hint of offside on that goal) within minutes. Yet, Bayern had the upper hand soon enough and led 2-1 thanks to Mario Gomez and Thomas Müller.

What was to follow was heartbreaking; Inter came back. They leveled the tie through Wesley Sneijder. In the 88th minute, they took the lead through Goran Pandev and eventually took the tie on aggregate. One memory which still sticks in my mind from that tie was Andrea Ranocchia's clearance off the line just before the end of the first half. Thomas Müller came within a centimeter of putting the ball over the line. At that time, it did not seem to be a big moment but after the game was over, it felt like the moment that could have changed everything.

2011-12: Switzerland's FC Basel had been making some noise and liked their chances when Bayern came to town. A late Valentin Stocker goal saw Bayern go behind in the first leg. Goals were needed in the second leg to turn the tie around and they came in bundles. A quartet from Herr Gomez, a double from Robben, another Müller strike and a fantastic all round performance from Franck Ribery saw Bayern go to the quarters and final themselves once again in a final.

**1994-95 included because of events in second leg

From the above seven results, let us rule out 1994-95. In finely poised Round of 16 ties, Bayern have made it to the quarterfinals three out of six times. This means, against Shakhtar this midweek, Bayern have a fifty percent chance of progressing.

Let us think of Göteborg, Real Madrid, Fiorentina and Basel until then!

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