Bayern Munich came into their Champions League clash this week against Juventus with the chance to establish themselves as genuine title contenders.
Many would argue that they had already done that, but with their 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal still fresh in the memory of those who witnessed it, several big questions remained about this Bayern side.
That was until this week, however, when a tactically superb performance was delivered by the German giants against Juventus—dominating their opponents 2-0 to end the doubts of their critics.
Bayern were strong in attack, dominant through the middle and disciplined in defense, and in doing so, they proved themselves to be genuine Champions League contenders. But more than that, they proved that they have the makings of a potential champion in 2013.
Read on to see the biggest reasons why Bayern are more than just contenders—they're the new front-runners for the 2013 Champions League title.
Squad Depth Allows Them to Match up Perfectly
Much has been made about Bayern Munich's depth in midfield and attack and how strong that makes them going forward with all their options. And whilst that's true, what their squad depth showed most clearly against Juventus was not how helpful it is in attack.
Rather, the win showed that their depth makes them a nightmare to get past in defense and that they can change their style to fit any team.
The team they rolled out against Juve was different than the one that beat Arsenal in London—which was different than the one that lost to Arsenal.
Bastian Schweinsteiger drifted into the middle, along with Franck Ribery. Even without Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben still found themselves with plenty of room to operate on the respective wings and exploit the 3-5-2 formation of Juventus.
Striker Mario Mandzukic dropped back to cover Andrea Pirlo in the middle—thus rendering the Italian playmaker useless against Bayern's midfield.
All of those changes—some big and some small—gave Bayern a huge advantage going forward and the ability to sniff out any prospective Juventus attack. Should they progress through this one—whoever their semifinal opponent will be—you can be sure that Bayern have the players and systems on hand to deal with whatever formation and style they come across.
Be it the tiki-taka style of Barcelona, the counterattacking brilliance of Real Madrid or the strengths they've become all too familiar with in Borussia Dortmund, Bayern will match up perfectly with their opponent in the semifinal, which makes them tough to beat.
Ruthless in Attack
Now we can talk about their attack for a moment, with Bayern showing how ruthless they can be going forward against the Italian giants. Though, having said that, we did see Bayern net nine goals against Hamburg on the weekend, so we can't say that was all that surprising!
What is surprising, however, is the dominance of Bayern's attack this year and how it stacks up against other attacks around the world.
Let's just take the other three teams that are favored to win their Champions League quarterfinals and compare their attacking statistics (via WhoScored).
|Shots||17.4 per game||16.6 per game||13.6 per game||18.8 per game|
|7.7 per game||6.6 per game||6.3 per game||8.0 per game|
|Dribbles||13.2 per game||12.1 per game||12.8 per game||8.6 per game|
|Possession||64.1 percent||55.8 percent||69.2 percent||56.0 percent|
|20 goals||16 goals||17 goals||21 goals|
Can Play Away from Home
It might not seem like a big deal, but for the four probable remaining teams in the Champions League this year, playing away from home will be a big deal.
The German and Spanish sides are strong at home, meaning that their away form will prove the difference in the end—especially given that the final at Wembley Stadium is also something of an away trip, although there will be no shortage of supporters.
If we're looking at away form, then Bayern are the epitome of brilliance, with their record in both German and European leagues a testament to itself.
They have yet to be defeated on the road in the Bundesliga, winning 12 of their 13 games, scoring 30 goals and conceding just two goals against. In the Champions League, other than a shock defeat to BATE Borisov, Bayern have not been beaten on the road.
The same cannot be said for the other teams in question.
Barcelona have won just one of their past four away games in the Champions League, losing to Celtic and Milan in embarrassing fashion. Dortmund too have only won one of their past four Champions League games, only winning once on the road throughout the tournament so far.
Madrid have won one of their past three, with that win coming against a 10-man Manchester United team under the most controversial of circumstances.
None of them possesses the away form of Bayern. Given that they'll all have to play at least two more games away from home if they're going to win the title, the German giants have a huge advantage heading into the Champions League semifinals.
Hit me up on Twitter for more sports: Follow @dantalintyre