Two of the biggest heavyweights in world football will clash this week in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals as Juventus take on Bayern Munich in Germany.
The German giants have been one of the most dominant teams this season—running away with the Bundesliga title courtesy of their explosive attack and phenomenal defense—and playing at home, will seemingly be a very tough team to beat.
However, Juventus are the reigning Italian champions and appear likely to repeat that feat in 2013 courtesy of their strength in midfield and consistency.
They'll be a tough opponent for any team to beat, and will certainly push the German powerhouse here. Whether they'll have the cohesion and discipline required to break down Bayern Munich still remains to be seen, but it will certainly be a thrilling matchup nonetheless.
Read on for a full preview of this key quarterfinal including all the need-to-know details, live viewing information, analysis and predictions.
Date: Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Start time: 2:45 p.m. ET (Eastern time)
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
Live Stream and TV Information
According to Live Soccer TV, coverage of this fixture will be available via MSG Plus, SiriusXM FC, Fox Soccer Plus and Fox Sports Net throughout the United States, whilst Sky Sports 2/HD,and Sky Go will provide coverage throughout the United Kingdom.
2012-13 Champions League Story so Far
W4, D1, L1
(15 goals for, seven against)
W3, D3, L0
(12 goals for, four against)
W1, D0, L1 vs. Arsenal
(Three goals for, three against)
|Round of 16||
W2, D0, L0 vs. Celtic
(Six goals for, none against)
Key Matchup to Watch: Arturo Vidal vs. Luiz Gustavo
Arturo Vidal has the potential to be a key player for Juventus in this one here, especially given his knowledge of the German style and his experience within it.
His opponent, Luiz Gustavo, hasn't been the greatest this year for Bayern, with his dominance against Real Madrid last season seemingly an eternity ago.
Gustavo lacks the pace and athleticism to truly be a dominant force in the middle of the field here, which gives Vidal a big chance to gain an advantage here.
Vidal is a natural ball-winner who combines beautifully with Andrea Pirlo in the middle of the field—as seen throughout the year.
If he can continue his strong season with another big showing here, then Juventus could well stop Bayern from dominating the middle of the field as they would like to do. That would likely then force the Bavarians wide in attack and negate some of the counterattacking strengths they possess.
Vidal could be the clog in the center of the field that stops Bayern from gaining the attacking dominance they would like. How that will eventually impact the final result still remains to be seen, but it will certainly be a big advantage for the away side if he can.
Biggest Storyline to Follow: Whose Defense Will Hold Up Best?
All season, Bayern Munich have been touted as the best defensive team in world football, but that stronghold has seemingly started to come apart.
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. They haven't kept a clean sheet at the Allianz Arena so far in the Champions League, and that's without playing any real attacking threats.
Compare that to Juventus, who have conceded just four goals against so far in the Champions League. Since a 1-1 draw away to Nordsjaelland in their third game, Juve have not allowed a single goal against—despite playing some very good attacking teams in Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk—and will therefore consider themselves big chances to continue that run here.
Their midfield is very strong and is capable of shutting down Bayern's attacking prowess through the center of the field. The biggest question is whether the Germans are capable of doing the same to the Italian champions' attack.
What They're Saying
Juventus are clearly full of confidence heading into this Champions League quarterfinal, despite seeing Bayern recently destroy an opponent 9-2 at home.
We'll head to Munich with a spring in our step knowing that we've done our job on the domestic front. We'll head there to keep alive our dream and to test our mettle in the European arena, and we'll do it with a smile and no fear.
However, Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes has also talked up his team heavily, telling UEFA.com just how good his team will be on the night.
I have been to bed these last few nights with the Old Lady and I have woken up with her too—I did a lot of research on her, I studied her most recent games and I was impressed by what I saw. But we are having an outstanding season ourselves. My team are playing a really committed style of football regardless of who is on the pitch.
Juventus will come into the Allianz Arena knowing full well that their opponents are expected to win, and win relatively comfortably on the night. Bayern, after all, have the dominant attack and the tough defense, and should be too strong for Juve playing at home.
However, there is certainly a lot to love for the Old Lady this year—particularly in midfield—with a number of very strong players in their midst.
Their defense is very underrated and will no doubt hold Bayern at bay for great portions of this match. The question simply becomes whether they have enough to completely hold out, or whether they will allow the German giants just one too many opportunities.
Juve's good passing and strength through the middle should see them get an opportunity or two here, and given Bayern's frailties at the back, I think they may nab the game's first goal after half time.
They'll do their best to hang on from there, but Bayern should net an equalizer late to leave this one tied at 1-1 with plenty of big talking points as a result.
All square on the night, with a huge game in Italy later this month.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 1, Juventus 1
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