Juventus v Bayern Munich
Champions League – Round of 16 – Tuesday, 23rd February – 19:45 GMT – Juventus Stadium
Juve’s 15-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of a very stubborn Bologna last Friday, but on the plus side, the Bianconeri are still unbeaten in 16 matches heading into tomorrow night’s Champions League game against Bayern Munich.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the game against Bologna was the general lack of ideas or creative spark from the midfield or the attack. Granted, the Rossoblu were a difficult side to break down and they defended incredibly well, making it a ‘stop-start’ game for large periods, however Juve still looked slow and sluggish, despite having started the match with lots of energy and intensity. After a period of such domestic dominance, including overtaking Napoli to lead Serie A, It was hard not to be disappointed by a 0-0 draw which almost felt more like a loss.
On a more positive note, the Bianconeri have one of the best defences in Europe, conceding just 15 goals in 26 league games while their European record is none too shabby with just the 3 goals conceded in the 6 group stage matches this season. Their overall record at the Juventus stadium is equally impressive with only 1 loss in 17 matches, albeit at the hands of tomorow night’s opponents, Bayern Munich.
Both sides have had their share of injury concerns with a host of players on the sidelines coming into this game. Giorgio Chiellini, Alex Sandro and Kwadwo Asamoah haven’t been included in the 19-man squad for the game, but Sami Khedira and Mario Mandzukic have both returned to fitness in time as confirmed by Allegri earlier today:
“Mario Mandzukic and Sami Khedira have trained, they are in good shape and available for the game,”
Allegri wasn’t giving much away when asked about his possible starting XI:
“You want to know my line-up? There’s not much to invent here. We just have to play an important game that will be seen all over the world.
“It’s a Round of 16, the result is decided on the field, but we must be on the same level as Bayern technically and tactically, so it’ll be a great game and played over 180 minutes.
“Last time I said we’d happily take 0-0 at home and I got a million insults! I think tomorrow it’s unlikely to end 0-0. I expect a game tomorrow with many goals.
Given the notable absentees, the starting XI almost writes itself. Buffon will be in goal with Stephan Lichtsteiner and Patrice Evra playing as full-backs with Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli making up the back line. In midfield, we’ll probably see Juan Cuadrado on the right with Sami Khedira, Claudio Marchisio and Paul Pogba alongside him. With Mandzukic back, the hope is that we see him from the start. While Alvaro Morata does well in Europe, Mandzukic creates more space for Paulo Dybala to work in and the Croatian’s absence has been notable. I would hazard a guess and say Mario will start alongside Dybala, despite only just returning from injury, with likelihood of seeing Morata later in the game.
4-4-2: Buffon; Lichsteiner, Barzagli, Bonucci, Evra; Cuadrado, Khedira, Marchisio, Pogba, Dybala, Mandzukic
Chiellini (calf), Alex Sandro (hamstring), Asamoah (hamstring), Caceres (Achilles).
4-1-4-1: Neuer; Lahm, Kimmich, Alaba, Rafinha; Alonso; Robben, Muller, Coman, Costa; Lewandowski
Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber
Infographics from Sporticos.com