Champions League Preview: Bayern Munich Aim to Extend Winning Streak vs BATE
Bayern Munich have enjoyed a tremendous start to their 2012-13 campaign, having won each of their nine competitive fixtures.
After storming to a seven-point lead in the Bundesliga, the German giants are steamrolling the competition on the domestic front. However, despite winning their Champions League opener against Valencia, Bayern stand second in Group F on goal difference.
The Germans have a chance to change this on Tuesday, but will first have to endure 90 difficult minutes in Minsk, Belarus.
In the east, the Bavarians will face stiff opposition in the form of BATE Borisov. Viktor Goncharenko's men are well on their way to a seventh consecutive Vysshaya Liga title, and survived three qualifying rounds before reaching the Champions League group stage.
Their 3-1 win against LOSC in Lille was a real warning sign that the Belarusians are real contenders to advance from Group F.
Although the two sides have never met before, BATE hammered Bayern's local rivals, 1860, by a 5-0 aggregate score in the 2002 Intertoto Cup. Only one player among the two squads has represented both sides in his career:
Alexander Hleb will have the inside scoop on Bayern, having faced off with the German record champions during his time at Stuttgart and Wolfsburg.
Team News (via Goal.com)
Goncharenko typically stuck with seven men in deep areas during qualifiers, with a holding midfield trio supporting a front three of Hleb, Aleksandr Pavlov, and Vitali Rodionov.
Four players were booked in the LOSC match, but none is in danger of suspension. Any late injury concerns notwithstanding, the trainer will accordingly have a full squad from which to choose.
Probable starting XI: Andrei Gorbunov; Denis Polyakov, Artem Radkov, Marko Simic, Maksim Bordachyov; Edgar Olekhnovich, Dmitri Likhtarovich, Aleksander Volodko; Aleksander Pavlov, Alexander Hleb; Vitali Rodionov
Jupp Heynckes has always taken a cautious approach in the Champions League, and accordingly, he will likely use Toni Kroos in the playmaker role on Tuesday.
In-form attacker Thomas Muller is expected to return to the starting lineup, and Luiz Gustavo has a good chance of retaining his spot in the first XI after scoring a cracking goal against Bremen over the weekend.
Long-term absentees Mario Gomez and David Alaba still have some time to wait before returning to the first team however, and Arjen Robben will also miss the clash due to a muscular injury.
Probable starting XI: Manuel Neuer; Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Dante, Holger Badstuber; Luiz Gustavo, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Thomas Muller, Toni Kroos, Franck Ribery; Mario Mandzukic
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