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Juventus drawn with Bayern Munich in Champions League quarter final
The quarter final draw of the Champions League was completed on Friday, setting up some tasty match-ups beginning on April 2nd. Arguably the marquee tilt of the round will see Juventus facing Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena for the first leg.
This match has two of the most organized sides in the competition going against each other. Juventus have wowed fans across Europe with their defensive prowess with just four goals conceded thus far. Bayern equaled that number after the second group stage fixture and have allowed 10 overall. Juve are also second in scoring, with 17 strikes (level with PSG), but are one behind Die Roten. The Bianconeri have also avoided defeat throughout the tournament. In fact, Bayern were the last side to defeat them (4-1 in December 2009) and was the start of Juve’s two season decline which included three managers being sacked and two seventh place finishes in Serie A. With Celtic brushed aside, this is the first stern test for the Scudetto holders. If they’re truly a top club in Europe, they have to go toe-to-toe with someone who’s been in two of the last three finals. If the Old Lady emerges victorious, then the ol’ gal may still have a future in Champions League after all.
Bayern avoided a scare in the round of 16 after advancing past Arsenal on away goals. Their 2-0 loss at home (3-3 on aggregate) taught them three valuable lessons. Firstly, their mindset has to be better, especially when they go up against a team who’s defence is arguably the best in the world. Second, the Bavarians play far better when Franck Ribery is in the lineup. His stamina, playmaking, and attitude are the reasons why he’s one of the cornerstones of the squad. He gets Bayern out of second gear and puts them into fifth, that leads to dominating performances, mainly in attack. The last thing they learned is that Luiz Gustavo is a curse. Both of Munich’s defeats in this year’s Champions League have come with the midfielder in the starting eleven. Him and Javi Martinez (who’s suspended for the first leg against Juventus) had a terrible night on Wednesday, so it’s no wonder that Bayern have come up short with him starting. With Martinez out on April 2nd, it’d be smart to have Toni Kroos a little deeper in the centre, move Thomas Muller into the hole, then have Arjen Robben on the right. It may not be what manager Jupp Heynckes wants to do, but for the sake of the defensive side of the team, it may be what’s best.
The first leg doesn’t begin for another 17 days, but it’s sure to be a cracker when the eventual champions of both Italy and Germany respectively square off for a spot in the semi finals of the Champions League.