Bayern Munich will line up as the supreme favorites this week when they take on Juventus in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. Which, given their dominance throughout the season, is understandable if not deserved for the probable German champions.
Bayern have been on an absolute tear on the domestic front and have thrived on across Europe as well—progressing to the quarterfinals with relative ease.
Yet despite that, they must be very wary of their Italian opponents in this one and the threat that they bring here. Juventus have been in fine form as well and have showcased great skill throughout the Champions League so far, and they will likely do that again in this matchup.
Bayern will be favorites, and they deserve to be, but they cannot count out their opponents here—even with the home-ground advantage in their favor.
Read on to see the biggest reasons why they must be wary of Juventus.
Juve's Midfield Can Match Bayern's
Bayern Munich's midfield plays host to a number of brilliant players and talent, and they've shown just how good they can be through the year so far.
They are an attacking beast on their day, and possess the ability to hurt their opponents from anywhere on the pitch, with great options on both wings as well as through the middle—something that few teams are able to match up against.
Juventus are one of those teams.
They don't have the wing-play that Bayern do, but through the middle of the field, there is arguably no team better equipped to handle Bayern than Juve.
With Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio make up a very strong trio of gritty midfielders who will not allow Bayern time go get set. If anything, they'll be more likely to dominate possession and hurt their opponents on the counterattack.
Bayern's deadly counterattack won't be as effective against Juventus unless they look to the wings, with Thomas Muller a big danger to watch on the right flank.
Especially given how little space there could be in the middle of the field.
Bayern's Defense Has Started to Show Cracks
Bayern Munich have been touted this season as having the best defensive record in world football, and that's a completely valid assessment to make.
Domestically, they've conceded just 13 goals in 27 games, and have kept clean sheets in just under half of their games so far (48.1 percent). Moreover, they have a world-class goalkeeper in Manuel Neuer and a tremendous backline that is more than capable snuffing out any attack.
However, that dominate defense has started to show some serious cracks of late—meaning Juventus have found a perfect time to take on Bayern.
The German giants have conceded in five out of their last six games, with five goals coming against them in their last three Bundesliga games. To put that into context, that's half of the total goals they've conceded all year—found in those three games against teams without the strongest attack.
Throw in to that mix a 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal and the memory of a 3-1 defeat away to BATE Borisov and Bayern Munich's defense really isn't that good at the moment—something that Juve will no doubt look to pressure with their solid passing and movement.
Bayern have not kept a clean sheet at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League this season, and they haven't even played their hardest game yet.
How will they fare when they take on the Italian champions?
The Style of the Game will Suit Juventus
As a generalization, teams will try and play for the draw (or to concede as fewer goals as possible) when playing away in the Champions League—if they're not a team that tends to attack from the word go like Bayern Munich or Barcelona does.
Juventus will likely embody something similar to this when they take on Bayern here, with the focus for the Italian side (as always) going to be on defense.
They'll likely set up strong across the back and try and maintain good width in their formation—forcing Bayern to come infield from the wings and try to beat them through the middle. Which, against the Old Lady's central midfielders, certainly won't be an easy task.
The German giants—playing at home—will look to attack Juventus often here, but that will suit the Old Lady's style of play. They won't necessarily mind playing out a 0-0 draw, and they certainly won't mind their opponents having the ball if there's no way that they can get through them.
Juventus showed against Chelsea that they can be brutal on the counterattack, and against the German team, there'll likely be plenty of chances for that.
If they can hold their shape well across the back and force Bayern into the middle, then this one will certainly be much closer than what people expect.
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