UEFA Champions League 2012-13 Preview: FC Bayern München vs. BATE Borisov

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UEFA Champions League 2012-13 Preview: FC Bayern München vs. BATE Borisov
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Toni Kroos

Revenge will be the order of the day as Bayern Munchen will look to bring BATE Borisov down in a bid to secure top spot in Group F of the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern played well against Borussia Dortmund. They had already locked in the title of Herbsmeister against Freiburg. Bayern has not played as well as they have in the other competitions in the Champions League. Out of four performances, only two were not good ones. Both those performances came at home at their hunting ground (and also the ground of pain considering the events of last season), the Allianz Arena.

As well as Bayern played against BVB, they still showed weaknesses when defending set pieces. They almost got caught out once and failed to learn a lesson from that incident as Mario Götze was left unmarked moments later. This shouldn’t take the gloss of Toni Kroos’ goal, though. Some wonderful individual efforts have marked Bayern’s season so far. Eight of those moments have come from Kroos.

He was the one who didn’t mark Götze. But the goal was an unforgettable one and his performance overall was marked by determination and creativity.

Coming back into this game, Bayern and Valencia have already qualified from this group. Bayern holds the top spot due to a superior head-to-head against the Spanish side. Valencia’s head coach, Mauricio Pellegrino, was recently sacked. They will play eliminated Lille in the last round of matches. A win will see Bayern take top spot regardless of the other result.

On Matchday 2, a miss from Kroos turned a winnable match on its head. Kroos created the chance himself as he pounced on a weak pass from the BATE keeper. He was taken wide of the goal and hit the post as a result. As Bayern attacked fruitlessly, BATE pounced on them on the counter-attack and struck. Bayern kept coming without much success and BATE scored a second.

Franck Ribery scored in injury time during a spell in which Bayern dominated but couldn’t finish. BATE took advantage of Bayern’s desperateness and scored to make the score 3-1. BATE and Leverkusen are the only sides to have defeated Bayern so far.

In terms of final matchday performances in the group stages, Bayern have a mixed record. Last season, having already qualified in first place, they lost to City 2-0. In 2011, the situation was the same and they lost to Roma 3-2. In 2010, they had to win to qualify and did exactly that in Turin against Juventus, 4-1. In 2009, they defeated Lyon 3-2 to take the top spot. Miroslav Klose struck twice that day.

BATE is going into the Europa League; this is guaranteed. They will want to show that they can take on the beast in its den and will be determined to reproduce their performance in Minsk in the Allianz Arena. Their game plan won’t change much. BATE has played only one match since their defeat to Lille in the last matchday whereas Bayern has played three. Despite the depth of their squad, tiredness could be a factor for Bayern. The draw against Dortmund was definitely energy-consuming.

Jupp Heynckes will have to be careful again this week as an important derby awaits Bayern in the weekend. Augsburg is supposedly an easy opponent but there are really no easy opponents in the Bundesliga. Bayern is their own worst enemy when they become complacent. Many teams tend to produce their best performances against Bayern as well in the league.

Dante, Schweinsteiger and Martinez are all one yellow card away from suspension.

This is my best guess at a line-up:

Manuel Neuer

Philipp Lahm- Daniel Van Buyten- Jerome Boateng- David Alaba

Javier Martinez- Toni Kroos

Xherdan Shaqiri- Thomas Müller- Franck Ribery

Mario Gomez

Gomez shines against opponents such as BATE. He will perhaps start so that he can feed off the excellent service of the attacking midfield trio and the wing-backs. Holger Badstuber is seemingly out for the season after a horrendous injury. Mario Mandzukic has worked hard all season but hasn’t produced in the Champions League.

Badstuber doesn’t have many fans out there, but I am one of the few who thinks he is a very good defender and whose absence will be thoroughly felt.

Prediction: Bayern 3-0 BATE (Provided BATE does not go down to ten men)

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