The star-studded Champions League quarterfinals get underway on Tuesday. One of the matches on tap features last season's runners-up Bayern Munich taking on Italian giant Juventus in what should be the most evenly-matched pairing of the round.
Bayern have been downright dominant in Bundesliga play. They have opened up a 20-point lead in the title race through 27 matches, dropping just one game along the way. The FCB have also scored the most goals and allowed the fewest, both by a wide margin.
Although Juventus haven't been able to pull away by quite as much in Serie A, they still hold the top spot ahead of Napoli and AC Milan. The Vecchia Signora's trouncing of Celtic in the Round of 16 further establishes them as UCL championship contenders.
What's your prediction for the first leg?
Here's a look at all the key viewing information for the first leg of the marquee matchup, followed by a preview and prediction as the European powers clash.
Where: Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany
When: Tuesday, April 2, at 2:45 p.m. ET
Watch: Fox Soccer Plus, Fox Sports Net and MSG Plus
Live Stream: Fox Soccer 2Go
The pressure is solely on the shoulders of Bayern Munich. The German side doesn't want to head to Italy for the second leg with a deficit to overcome, especially against a Juventus squad that's been terrific defensively throughout the campaign.
For Bayern, it all starts in the midfield. The reason they've been able to maintain such a high level of form over an extended period is the group's ability to control possession and the pace of the match. It has a trickle-down effect throughout the club.
Bastian Schweinsteiger is often the player who jump-starts the offense. The veteran midfielder serves as a link between the back line and the attack, which is highlighted by Thomas Muller and Mario Mandzukic. The more touches they get, the greater the chances Bayern get the victory.
Bayern can also feel confident taking some chances adding a couple extra players into the final third. Captain Philipp Lahm leads a rock-solid defense that can handle Juventus' dangerous counterattacks. The last line of defense, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, has also been in fine form dating back to last season.
That's key for the FCB. They must be the aggressor throughout the match, or at least until they have a comfortable lead late. Anything less than a victory on home turf will shift the advantage significantly toward Juventus heading into next week.
Who will be the man of the match?
The Vecchia Signora understand that, too. They would love nothing more than to escape Allianz Arena with a positive result, giving them the physical and mental edge. So expect them to clog the midfield with five across to force Bayern into a lot of slow build-ups.
Of course, it always helps to have Gianluigi Buffon, who remains one of the most reliable keepers on the planet, between the posts. The 35-year-old Italian star has played in no shortage of big matches and this definitely falls in that category.
The defensive-minded strategy is the right approach given Bayern's potent attack, but Juventus can't afford to let them completely dominate possession. To win it, they must utilize the clock and a lot of quick passes through Andrea Pirlo to create some chances.
In a perfect world, they would play airtight defense for 90 minutes and create one good chance for Fabio Quagliarella or Alessandro Matri to score the winner.
Ultimately, Bayern should be able to rise to the occasion like they have so often over the past couple seasons in Champions League play. Look for them to squeak out a victory and put the pressure on Juventus in the second leg.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2, Juventus 1