3-5-2 vs. 4-5-1; the Italian champion-elect vs. the German champion-elect; the Old Lady of Turin vs. the Bavarians; the Allianz Arena is set to witness yet another historical showdown between Bayern and Juventus on Tuesday. The Arena has witnessed quite a few sad nights for Bayern. Quite a few of those sad nights came when the opposition was Italian.
Juventus is coming into this one on the back of a win over the side which Bayern lost the 2010 Champions League Finale to, Inter Milan, 1-2. Bayern, meanwhile, was absolutely magnificent as they used textbook football to take apart Hamburger SV 9-2. The Allianz Arena watched in awe as Claudio Pizarro turned back the years to score four. Arjen Robben struck twice as well.
This meeting against Juventus will be a test of Bayern's true mettle.
Bayern, despite bulldozing just about every league opposition, has not always convinced in the Champions League. The Bavarians have already lost twice this campaign; they come up against a side which remains unbeaten in the Champions League. Despite Die Roten's poor record against Italian sides including Juve, the last meeting between these two sides will bring in plenty of fond memories.
In Turin, with their backs against the wall, Bayern went down a goal. An exit looked imminent. However, a penalty from goalkeeper extraordinaire Hans-Jorg Butt brought Bayern back into the game. Strikes from Ivica Olic, Mario Gomez and finally Anatoliy Tymoshchuk saw Bayern win 1-4 in a wonderful night. The home game in Bavaria had ended 0-0.
Juventus has reason to believe coming into this match. Despite winning 9-2, Bayern conceded two clumsy goals from corners against Hamburger SV. That corner was the same corner in which they conceded the second to Leverkusen in the 1-2 defeat in October. In fact, Laurent Koscielny's headed goal against Arsenal was conceded at the same end.
Jupp Heynckes does not have to worry too much about his squad. He has to be smart tactically, however, against a Juventus side that is both Italian and not Italian. Firstly, they know how to cheat just as all Italian teams do. Little pushes and kicks are common. This is not a bad trait however. Italian teams know how to win; winning teams know how to push boundaries when it comes to the rules. At the same time, they play with a lot of imagination.
Bayern plays with a lot of imagination as well. However, aside from a survival match against Arsenal, they have not been pushed to their limits yet. The mentality has not yet been put through a test as rough as the Chelsea test from last season's finale. Oh, Juventus thrashed Chelsea in the group stages by the way.
Juventus has the capability to scare Bayern, of course. However, Bayern has to prove that this is indeed one of the best teams in the history of German football. League and cup dominance do not always translate to European dominance. La Vecchia Signora with the likes of Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Mirko Vucinic and of course Gianluigi Buffon is a side which is incredibly fit and talented.
During the weekend, Sebastian Giovinco was clattered by Esteban Cambiasso and could miss out. Mirko Vucinic, meanwhile, is suffering from flu. Bayern will be without the suspended Javier Martinez. Claudio Pizarro could start after his brilliant weekend performance. Holger Badstuber is still out with a long term injury.
Philipp Lahm - Jerome Boateng - Dante - David Alaba
Bastian Schweinsteiger - Luiz Gustavo
Thomas Muller- Toni Kroos - Franck Ribery
Claudio Pizarro/Mario Mandzukic
Finally, let me hear your thoughts on the biggest match up of the quarterfinals of the Champions League below.