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Juventus' revival in recent years has been primarily the product of their midfield, which is among the strongest in Europe.
Since signing Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal in 2011, the Turin side have been able to control the flow of play in most games, balancing attack and defense with aplomb. Even so, Bayern have a superior midfield.
To compare the two teams, it's first important to distinguish the most important areas of midfield. Juve's wingers, Stephan Lichtsteiner and either Kwadwo Asamoah or Federico Peluso, are primarily defensive players by nature. They are used in roles more defensive than in midfield, giving support for the centre-backs.
Bayern wingers Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller are also less vital to a midfield discussion; the pair play primarily as support men in attack. Toni Kroos is a bit more versatile and is integral to the Bavarians' possession game in midfield.
The primary comparison between the Bayern and Juve midfields is between Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luiz Gustavo (the now-suspended Javi Martinez swapping in place of Gustavo for the second leg) and Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio.
In function, if not style, Schweinsteiger and Pirlo are most comparable. Pirlo has had a tremendous resurgence of form since joining Juve, but his age may pose a problem. The veteran turns 34 in under two months and is not used to facing pressing teams in Serie A.
In the first leg of the Round of 16 against Celtic, Pirlo was effectively nullified by the Scots' pressing midfield before an opener that followed a calamitous error in defense. Juve went on to win that match by a convincing 3-0 margin, which muted questions of whether they could cope under ordinary situations with a pressing midfield of better caliber. The run of play begged the question: What if Juve faced a pressing team with better players?
Schweinsteiger is, at 28, in the physical prime of his career and is now in the form of his life. He was extremely motivated for success last season and played brilliantly before a broken collarbone and ankle ligament damage induced a decline of form as he was forced to play through the pain barrier.
Schweinsteiger's desire to atone for missing Bayern's final penalty kick in the Champions League final seems to burn with every game, and his range of skills—from short- and long-range passing to dribbling to ball-winning and more—make him arguably the most complete midfielder in the world.
Vidal may be the best-adapted Juve midfielder to face Bayern, having played in the Bundesliga with Leverkusen for four seasons before moving to Turin. His skills as a ball-winner are unparalleled, and his energy and versatility have been vital to Pirlo's success.
Playing opposite Vidal is Bayern's Luiz Gustavo. The Brazilian has not often played this season and is less complete than Vidal. Gustavo was brilliant against Real Madrid in the Champions League last season, however, and his athleticism and mentality will be huge assets in spite of his limited ability on the ball.
The final comparison is between Kroos and Marchisio, who are not very closely related in role but tend to be the most offensive-minded of their respective clubs. Kroos has been one of Bayern's top performers in the Champions League in the last two seasons, and his volleyed goal in the first leg against Arsenal in February was a piece of technical wizardry. He may not be the greatest defender, but Kroos is arguably the most technically gifted midfielder who will play on Tuesday and can play a part in distributing in both deep areas and in the final third.
Marchisio is a somewhat polarizing figure among Serie A analysts. He scores and assists less often than Kroos and is not obviously brilliant in any one area. Yet, he's scored twice and assisted three more in the Champions League this season and seems to give his team a substantial lift. He may have doubters, but there is certainly a reason why Marchisio starts in a strong Juve midfield.
Kroos may be the more talented player, but Marchisio finds ways to make his impression felt. A similar statement could be made to relate the two midfields overall, with Bayern having an advantage in terms of quality. If Juventus are to advance to the semifinals, they will have to find ways to overcome this gap.