Juventus vs. Bayern Munich: Depth of Talent Has Bavarians Primed for Strong UCL
The juggernaut that is Bayern Munich rolled on this week—booking their place in the Champions League semifinals with a 4-0 aggregate win over Juventus.
Having defeated the Italian champions 2-0 in the first leg, Bayern again toyed with their opponents throughout most of the second leg, with their dominant midfield simply too strong for the Azzurri.
Mario Mandzukic headed home mid-way through the second half to give Bayern an insurmountable 3-0 lead before Claudio Pizarro added one more to seal the win—sending the Bavarians through to the semifinals with the belief that they can reach the final for a second year running, this time at Wembley.
And looking at their squad and the performances they've chalked up in the tournament so far, there's a very good chance that the German giants could do so.
No other team in the Champions League semifinals possesses the depth of talent that Bayern do. Moreover, no other team would be able to handle the loss of a key player (say a Lionel Messi or a Cristiano Ronaldo-type figure and still win their way through a Champions League quarterfinal comfortably).
Yet Bayern, with its squad, can do just that.
Their midfield and attacking depth is simply phenomenal, with an incredible amount of talent existing for Jupp Heynckes to select from. Take a look at their squad depth below, via WhoScored.com.
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about that list is that it doesn't include a number of their up-and-coming stars, whom many teams are forced to experiment with at this stage in the season due to injuries and/or yellow-card suspensions.
But not Bayern—its replacements are players who are just as talented and as strong as the starting eleven, and it makes for a very, very strong team.
Take Mandzukic who will miss the first leg of their semifinal.
The Croatian international has netted 19 goals in all competitions for Bayern this year (their leading goal-scorer) and for many teams, losing someone like him in a Champions League semifinal would be huge.
While they'll definitely miss him, Bayern still have a number of options to replace him—Thomas Muller perhaps moving in from the right wing (who has scored 18 goals and 11 assists this year) or Pizarro (who has five goals and three assists in his last 112 minutes of play for Bayern Munich in all competitions).
Bayern Munich have had 10 different goalscorers in the Champions League this season, more than any other side. #UCL— FootballFacts101 (@FootballFact101) April 10, 2013
Bayern did the same in midfield when Toni Kroos went down—bringing in more-than-capable replacements who starred for the Bavarians.
And in the Champions League semifinal, where they'll have to play away from home in one of the three toughest road trips in world football, Bayern's depth of talent will be vital to their success.
It will allow them to cover against any injuries and give them the confidence to fire at 100 percent for the full 180 minutes in both legs—which, for the Bavarians' opponents, will make it very difficult to find a weakness. But more so, it will allow them to change their formation and starting lineup to whatever they need in order to best exploit what their opponent brings to the table.
Bayern's ability to change its style and tactics with different players while maintaining the same level of talent has been crucial for them this year. It was the reason they got past Arsenal in London, past Juventus in Germany and again past the Italians in Turin this week—all because they were able to adapt their side in order to shut down whatever their opponents threw against them.
"Be it the tiki-taka style of Barcelona, the counter-attacking brilliance of Real Madrid or the strengths they've become all too familiar with in Borussia Dortmund," I wrote last week. "Bayern will match up perfectly with their opponent in the semifinal—making them tough to beat".
After watching them dismantle the Italian champions with ease on Wednesday night, it seems that statement could well be what leads Bayern back to the final this year.
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