It's that time of season. The Champions League Round of 16 second legs are upon us. Bayern Munich earned a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Turin against Juventus FC and are looking to extend the Allianz Arena's reputation as a fortress on Wednesday.
Helping us get a feel for how Juventus will approach this match is Danny Penza, our colleauge over at Black & White & Read All Over.
Ryan: How big an impact will Claudio Marchisio's absence be for Juventus given their plan in Turin was heavily reliant on the defense?
Danny: The loss of Marchisio is huge — both offensively and defensively. As much as Giorgio Chiellini's likely absence means no 3-5-2, Marchisio being injured is maybe the biggest injury outside of Gigi Buffon and Paulo Dybala that Max Allegri couldn't afford to have happen so soon before the second leg. Juve dealing with injuries isn't a newfound phenomenon by any means this season, but Marchisio is the player that keeps Juve ticking. His defensive contributions are vital, his tactical intelligence always under-appreciated by some and his distribution always consistent.
Juventus have shown they can survive big games without Sami Khedira and Paul Pogba in the past, but with Marchisio's importance being so much higher than those two, one has to wonder both which direction will Allegri go in terms of his formation and how it will impact his approach to the game as a whole.
Ryan: Last time out, Mario Mandzukic seemed somewhat anonymous. How do you think Juventus will try bring him into the game more?
Danny: First, Mandzukic needs to be healthy. So there's that. Even though he hasn't been scoring many goals as of late, Mandzukic has been an important contributor. But I think the big thing is what Allegri does in terms of the personnel being used if Juve start with a 4-4-2.
Juan Cuadrado will likely start on the right wing, but what about the left? If Allegri starts Stefano Sturaro in the center, then Pogba is the left winger. But if Alex Sandro is the guy who gets put out wide on the left, then it's a clear indication that Allegri wants to have his two best crossers in the lineup at the same time. And, as both Juve and Bayern fans alike know, Mandzukic is a quality threat to do damage in the air. It's why I think Sandro should play no matter what. Hopefully Allegri feels the same way.
Ryan: How much of a chance do you think Juventus really has given the Allianz Arena is a fortress and Bayern have 2 away goals?
Danny: Juve are the underdogs, no doubt. But Juve were also the underdogs when they went to Spain to play the second leg against Real Madrid in the semifinals last season. Allegri will need his team to play really, really well. A B-minus game won't get it done knowing that Bayern have two away goals in their back pocket. They'll need a complete game, not one that seems them show up after about 45 or 50 minutes. I guess it's simple as this: Which Juventus team shows up, the one from the first half in Turin or the one from the second half? If it's the second-half team we saw at Juventus Stadium, then Juve have a shot. Maybe not one to make them the favorites, but a shot nonetheless.