Defending UEFA Champions League winners Bayern Munich have cruised through two group stage matches so far, beating Manchester City and CSKA Moscow handily.
The Bundesliga side will be one of 16 clubs in action on Tuesday. Pep Guardiola's outfit is set to host Viktoria Plzen at Allianz Arena in what will be the third UCL group qualifier this year for both teams.
Plzen is winless in Champions League play since the group stage began but did have a long winning streak just to reach that point. That streak was snapped by City and Moscow, respectively.
However, Guardiola is committed to helping his club treat this match like it was the European tournament final. As noted by Associated Press writer Ciaran Fahey, a closer look at highlights of Pavel Vrba's squad in their last two losses reveals more than meets the eye:
Guardiola: "I have a lot of respect for Plzen. They have a lot of good players. They played very well in the first half against Man City."— Ciarán Fahey (@cfaheyAP) October 22, 2013
That said, Munich are on a roll and have not lost a match since July. They've struggled at times in Bundesliga play—if you can call drawing even struggling—but are clearly one of the best clubs in the world and should be feared by all.
The Bavarian club's official Twitter account also noted that star midfielder Franck Ribery is fit enough to return to the first-team lineup:
With Munich looking to take a commanding lead in the Group D table and Plzen just trying to tread water, we'll prepare you on how to catch all the action from this upcoming Champions League match.
When: Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 2:45 p.m. ET (7:45 p.m. BST)
Where: Allianz Arena, Munich, Bavaria, Germany
Watch: Fox Soccer Plus
Live Stream: FoxSoccer2Go
Odds*: Bayern Munich (-1600), Viktoria Plzen (+2800), Draw (+1200)
*via Bovada, accurate as of 10/22/13.
Back Line Depth Weak for Munich
Munich will be without two regular starters (Dante and Jerome Boateng) for the first leg of this showdown with Plzen, meaning Guardiola will have to rely on other players to come through in a big way on Wednesday.
One such player will likely be Philipp Lahm.
As reported by ESPN FC's Stephan Uersfeld, Munich will have to lean on Lahm in a centre-back role to keep Plzen at bay. Daniel van Buyten and Jan Kirchhoff are also in line to see an uptick in playing time, but Lahm could be the key to avoiding a shocking upset.
The 29-year-old has been a valuable asset to Guardiola's arsenal of players, filling in as a holding midfielder while Ribery was out. Now that Ribery is set to return and Javi Martinez is also on the first-team squad, the Munich manager will ask his versatile German to help hold down the back line.
Regardless of who Munich turns to, expect the lack of depth to be a key point in the match if Plzen is able to create chances and threaten the home side early on in this match.
Bayern Munich 5, Viktoria Plzen 1
Munich simply has too much talent for Plzen to match up with.
With Ribery returning and Arjen Robben shooting for his sixth goal in his last six UCL matches, the Bavarian club have all sorts of confidence—even if the situation with Guardiola's defense is up in the air.
Look for Munich to boast a big lead by halftime and coast to a comfortable victory at home. The return trip to Plzen might not be as easy, but Munich records three more points and takes another step toward moving on in Champions League play with the victory.
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