Champions League Second Leg Preview: FC Bayern Munchen vs. Inter Milan
Inter beat Bayern convincingly in the final of the 2010 Champions League. They have to repeat similar heroics if they are to overturn a 0-1 deficit from the first leg. Bayern's Mario Gomez gave the Bavarians a precious away goal in the 90th minute of the first leg at the San Siro. The second leg will take place at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday in Munich.
Whilst Inter drew against Brescia, Bayern took apart Hamburger SV at the weekend. Bayern's victory was a first following the Inter match as Bayern lost against Dortmund and Hannover in the Bundesliga and against Schalke 04 in the German Cup after their previous Champions League match. Furthermore, Bayern does not have injuries or suspensions to contend with with the exception of Ivica Olic, who is out for the season.
Arjen Robben announced his return to form with a hat-trick while Franck Ribery scored once and set up two goals, one of which was an own-goal by Heiko Westermann, on Saturday. Thomas Mueller, after a barren spell, finally got on the score-sheet. What will perhaps worry Bayern is the form of main striker Mario Gomez. Gomez is yet to score following the vital away goal he scored at the San Siro.
Inter has plenty of injury worries. Despite this, they travel to Munich with a full-strength squad with the exceptions of Walter Samuel and David Suazo. Giampaolo Pazzini cannot be used in the CL and was left back in Italy. Lucio is extremely doubtful and did not train with the squad in their previous training session. The former Munich man's chances of playing at his old stomping ground are very slim.
Who will reach the quarter-finals?
Diego Milito is extremely doubtful. Initial reports from the club's official website revealed that Milito would stay back in Italy. However, latter ones confirmed that he would be travelling to Munich. Whether an unfit Milito will start is completely up to coach Leonardo. Andrea Ranocchia, Maicon and Javier Zanetti are slight doubts but will probably start.
Bayern's Louis Van Gaal will no longer be the coach of the club following this season. If Bayern does fall to Inter, this will be his last Champions League match as Bayern head coach. He has a bit of a selection headache at the back. He has to choose any two from Breno, Luis Gustavo, Anatoliy Tymoschchuk, Daniel Van Buyten and Holger Badstuber to form a partnership at the heart of defence.
Gustavo was very impressive in absolutely taking Wesley Sneijder out of the picture in the first leg. However, with the return of Toni Kroos to the lineup, Van Gaal has to decide whether Kroos or Gustavo should sit alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger in defensive midfield. One part of the performance against Hamburg that must be looked at is Bayern's defence. Goran Pandev has come out and said that Bayern is weak defensively.
Against Hamburg, Danijel Pranjic did not come out of his half too often. Thus, at the back, Bayern actually had a fantastic match. In the first leg, Thomas Kraft had an amazing game and kept Inter out. Inter might be very formidable in attack but their defence isn't the best. The fact that they conceded at the weekend won't help their cause at all.
Bayern cannot be written off. This weekend, they displayed fluidity, and despite the fact that they are still not completely out of their rut, they did play "total football" as they interchanged positions.
Take a look at Kroos, for example. Kroos can play in any spot across midfield. Bastian Schweinsteiger can do the same as well. Robben and Ribery can both play as wingers, behind the forward as well as forwards themselves and they displayed that in their win over Hamburg.
Looking back to the 2010 final, Inter had Diego Milito to count on. They had a tactical genius to count on in the form of Jose Mourinho rather than the motivator and the relatively inexperienced Leonardo.
Mourinho knew exactly how to neutralize Bayern and he allowed Bayern to have more the ball for the majority of the game but to use it to little effect. Walter Samuel played a very important part in the defence. Bayern's performances in Europe has improved while Inter has not been the same side they were in 2010. However, Inter cannot be written off easily either.
Prediction: I might be wrong but I do feel that Bayern will go through to the quarterfinals.
Final Score: Bayern 2-1 Inter
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