by George Barry

Bayern Munich vs. Juventus
UEFA Champions League Quarter Final
Allianz Arena
Tuesday 2nd April 2013, 19:45.

As we head into the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League, one of the quarter finals pitches two domestic league leaders against each other. Bayern Munich vs. Juventus represents a fascinating tie between two very strong teams. Bar a few minor blips, both teams have impressed thus far, each topping their group facing reasonable competition from the likes of Valencia, Shakhtar Donetsk and Chelsea. The last 16 ties were both dispatched with little fuss. Juventus overpowered Celtic cruising through in impressive style with a 5-0 aggregate win, whilst Bayern, despite losing the second leg had already done the damage with an impressive away win at the Emirates against Arsenal. Tuesday night signifies both sides toughest European challenge to date, also providing an exciting change from domestic proceedings in which Juventus top Serie A with a nine point cushion and Bayern top the Bundesliga with a twenty point lead.

Probable Lineups/ Team News
BAYERN MUNICH (4,3,2,1);
Neuer; Lahm, Dante, Boateng, Alaba; Schweinsteiger, Gustavo; Muller, Kroos, Ribery; Mandzukic.

Bayern Munich are able to welcome back Bastian Schweinsteiger after his European suspension and Luis Gustavo will partner him in the central midfield role due to Javi Martinez’s ban. Alaba, Mandzukic, Ribery and Muller who were all rested during the weekend Bundesliga thumping of Hamburg 9-2 shoud all come into the starting line-up. Aside from this Bayern have no new injury worries.

JUVENTUS (3,5,2);
Buffon; Chiellini, Bonucci, Barzagli; Asomoah, Marchisio, Pirlo, Vidal, Lichtsteiner; Matri, Quagliarella.

There was little opportunity for Antonio Conte to change players due to the importance of their Serie A fixture against Inter Milan, with Lichtsteiner the only player rested at the weekend. However, there are two injury problems that limit Juventus’ attacking options with Mirko Vucinic suffering from flu and Sebastian Giovinco doubtful with an ankle knock. Juventus have no players suspended.

Both sides employ interesting formations and the tactical decsions of Conte and Heynckes. Bayern are a very strong attacking outfit and have the ability to cause Juventus lots of problems. The Juventus system of three at the back and wing backs has worked well all season allbeit against opposition of a different calibre to Bayern Munich. Therefore, a crucial part of the game will be the space Ribery, Kroos and Muller are afforded as all have a decent scoring record and with Mandzukic through the middle, Juventus will have to be careful to limit his service. Juventus have a strong three in midfield with the creative Pirlo, explosive Vidal and hard-working Marchiso so if they can control the middle of the park, there is potential for a Juventus win. Much will depend on the performance of Matri and Quagliarella if that is the front two selected by Conte. Both would be unlikely starters if Juventus had a fully fit squad to choose from and they will need to each put in a strong performance to allow Juventus a foothold in the game.

Bayern are the joint highest scorers in the competition with 18 goals in 8 games.
Juventus have conceded the fewest goals, just 4 in 6 games.
The last match-up of the two was in the 2009-10 Champions League group stage in which there was 0-0 draw and a 4-1 win for Bayern.
It has been ten years since Juventus last made the Champions League semi-final stage.

Bayern Munich have been made the clear favourites by the bookies and despite the tempting odds for a Juventus upset, it is tough to look past a strong Bayern side who will want to make the most of home advantage. Mario Mandzukic has been in great form this season with 18 goals in all competitions. This combined with his weekend rest and the creative triumvirate playing behind him mean he is likely to be on the scoresheet.
Bayern Munich to win 2-1
Mario Mandzukic to score first