The Champions League round of 16 matches are right around the corner and Bayern Munich will be looking to shake off the doom and gloom of the 3-0 loss at Bayer Leverkusen with a win against Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico. The return leg at the Allianz Arena is slated to take place on March 5th.
Depending on which way you look at it, now is either as good of a time as ever to take on Bayern, or a bad time. The Rekordmeister have been quite notorious for responding to bad losses with emphatic wins, but they looked a shade of themselves in the 3-0 defeat at the BayArena. Nothing can be taken away from just how good Die Werkself have been under Xabi Alonso this season, but Thomas Tuchel’s side certainly did not do themselves any favors with the effort they put forth in the loss. The Bundesliga title is now massively in Leverkusen’s favor, sitting five points ahead of Bayern in the league table.
Lazio manager Maurizio Sarri is not too concerned with Bayern’s recent result, and he knows it will take a whole lot for his side to get the better of the reigning Bundesliga champions in the round of 16. Looking ahead to the first leg in Rome, the former SSC Napoli, Chelsea FC, and Juventus manager was equal parts optimistic and realistic in his approach to the encounter.
“We’re playing a Champions League match against an absolute top-level team, one of the strongest in the world. It’s an extremely difficult game, bordering on the impossible. But there’s another side to the coin: many teams would like to be in our position. We did well during the week; we all questioned ourselves. Perhaps we realized that we were losing the taste for fun. We need to start from here,” Sarri explained to DAZN Italia (via @iMiaSanMia).
Coming in to the Champions League knockout stage round, Lazio is sitting in 8th place in the Serie A table, having won only one of their last four domestic matches, including a 3-0 loss to Inter Milan in the Italian Supercup semifinals. Historically, Bayern also have the upper hand against Lazio, too. Bayern beat Lazio 6-2 on aggregate back in the 2020/21 Champions League round of 16; winning the away leg 4-1 and the home leg 2-1. Sarri will be hoping those numbers and results are not repeated, but he knows it will take Lazio being absolutely perfect in both legs.