Bayern Munich vs. Juventus, 2013 UEFA Champions League: Preview

Claudio Villa

Juventus have experienced mixed results against teams that play an attacking, up-tempo style in a 4-2-3-1 formation this season. Do they have an answer for Bayern Munich, the best team they've faced so far in the UEFA Champions League?

Juventus don't get to see too many quality teams that play the world's formation de jour, 4-2-3-1, in Serie A. They see even less teams who play at the tempo of Bayern Munich, and who possess the quality in their starting XI. The Bavarians are, by far, the biggest test that Juventus has faced this season.

However, their style of play isn't completely foreign to Juventus, who came up against Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage of the competition. Bayern falls somewhere between the two sides in the technical quality of their players and their pace of play, but they're not far behind Chelsea in skill or Shakhtar in speed. They possess the best aspects of both teams' games, and especially given that Juventus faced Chelsea before their acquisition of Demba Ba, Bayern are by far the best team that Juventus have played this season.

Despite the quality in the Bayern team, Juventus won't be daunted, even on the road. They started poorly in their game at Stamford Bridge, but found a way to claw back into the game late. Their road record against the Serie A elite isn't terrific, but they're coming off a huge derby win at the San Siro against bitter rivals Inter Milan. Their leader at the back, Giorgio Chiellini, has returned to full fitness. Bayern are the favorites on Tuesday night and in the tie overall, but Juve will expect to head home with plenty to play for.

Team News

Bayern Munich are not expected to have any major absences due to injury except defender Holger Badstuber, who is likely out for the entire season with a knee injury. Javi Martinez is suspended due to yellow card accumulation. David Alaba wasn't in the squad at the weekend, but should start at left back on Tuesday. Mario Gomez has a muscle strain and might not make the bench even if fit, given the recent form of Mario Mandžukić and Claudio Pizarro.

Antonio Conte is in a similar situation, with no certain absences to first team regulars, though he's not entirely sure about the fitness of a couple of his forwards. Sebastian Giovinco is in the squad after taking a bad tackle from Esteban Cambiasso on Saturday, but the knock on his ankle could be consideration in picking the starting XI. Mirko Vučinić has been ill and will be a game-time decision.

Projected lineups (left to right)

Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; David Alaba, Dante, Jerome Boateng, Philipp Lahm; Luiz Gustavo, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Franck Ribery, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller; Mario Mandžukić

Juventus (3-5-2): Gianluigi Buffon; Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli; Kwadwo Asamoah, Arturo Vidal, Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio, Stephan Lichtsteiner; Sebastian Giovinco, Fabio Quagliarella

football formations

Burning questions

Could Jupp Heynckes opt for Arjen Robben?: Yes, absolutely. Thomas Müller's been his guy in Champions League games that matter, but Robben has started the last Champions League game and the last two Bundesliga games for Bayern. He was one of few players who looked like he was fully up for the second Arsenal game, and the dangerous things he can do to an opposing defense might outweigh the benefits of playing a less selfish player like Müller.

How much defensive work will Toni Kroos be asked to do?: Man-marking Andrea Pirlo and preventing him from getting the ball has been a good tactic against his Milan, Juventus and Italy teams since he hit the wrong side of 30. Bayern might be confident enough in their own ability to keep the ball and score that they don't employ that tactic, but it's something to keep an eye on.

Can Juventus score?: The Old Lady has a lot of good strikers and no terrific ones. Their spectacular midfield and their depth at the forward spot has masked the fact that all four of their regulars up top are merely serviceable players. Giovinco and Vučinić are both battling fitness issues, but Matri and Quagliarella both scored at the weekend. Those latter two players are guys who have spent their careers on huge hot and cold streaks, so Juventinos will hope that the Derby win marked the start of one of those hot streaks for at least one of them.

Who will win the set piece battle?: Juventus are one of the best teams in the world at attacking and defending set pieces. Bayern Munich have the quality to dominate both boxes in this respect and have in quite a few games, but occasional defensive set piece lapses are the only thing about their team that even comes close to resembling a weakness. Bayern are by no means a poor defensive team on set pieces, but it wouldn't be stunning to see Chiellini lose his marker and power one in.

Prediction

Bayern Munich are impossible to beat at home and are in excellent form. It's tough to see them failing to, at the very least, look the better side in a draw. I like them to score a couple of times, but Juventus to nick an away goal that makes the away leg an interesting one. 2-1, Bayern.

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