Don't write off Juventus, warns Gary Lim
Juve will give Bayern Munich a tougher test than expected
ROUND OF 16, 2ND LEG
BAYERN MUNICH v JUVENTUS
- First leg: Teams tied at 2-2
(Tomorrow, 3.40am, Singtel TV Ch 111)
If the experts are to be believed, Juventus' players need not bother making the trip to the Allianz Arena.
They would be better off lazing by their hotel pool, sipping from a frosted glass with a cocktail umbrella.
The Old Lady failed to make their home tie count, and thus landed themselves the task of having to take down the mighty Bayern Munich on German soil tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
Alarmingly, they also presented the Bundesliga leaders two crucial away goals in the first leg of their Champions League Round-of-16 clash.
By all accounts, Juventus are in for a shelling they will never forget.
But they will be prepared for the mayhem.
Ah, those Italians, the stubborn lot who perpetually take disrespect as an affront.
Bayern had a taste of that tenacious streak at the Juventus Stadium three weeks ago.
They had threatened to humiliate Juventus in their own backyard, pummelling the hosts as they surged to a 2-0 away lead through Thomas Mueller and Arjen Robben.
But then the Old Lady fought back, levelling the game through Paulo Dybala and Stefano Sturaro to keep the tie alive.
The stunning comeback did not catch Bayern manager Pep Guardiola completely by surprise.
"We are not dealing with a team from the provinces," said the 45-year-old after that encounter, reminding all of the Serie A powerhouses' pedigree.
These days the Bianconeri no longer instil the same fear in European opponents as Italian sides of the late-80s and 90s.
Their finances no longer allow them the luxury of engaging in bidding wars for football's creme de la creme.
But a combination of astuteness and experience still makes them a force to be reckoned with.
There is no better evidence of that than last season, when they knocked out Real Madrid to qualify for the final, which they lost to Barcelona.
However, Bayern remain the overwhelming favourites, and understandably so.
Mueller and Robert Lewandowski have netted 13 Champions League goals between them, while on the flanks the left-right combination of Douglas Costa and Robben looks simply irresistible.
They hardly broke a sweat in last Saturday's 5-0 thrashing of Werder Bremen.
Their only weakness is in defence - Holger Badstuber, Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng will be missing through injuries - but they have more than compensated for that with their attacking firepower.
But Juventus will walk out of the players' tunnel in Munich brimming with confidence themselves.
Massimiliano Allegri's men have been in unstoppable form in Serie A, unbeaten in 19 games and winning 18 of those.
Up front, in the likely absence of injured top scorer Paulo Dybala, they will count on Alvaro Morata, the player who scored the goals that knocked out Real last season.
Alongside him should be the experienced Mario Mandzukic, who knows all about Bayern and has two Bundesliga and one Champions League winner's medals from his two seasons there.
At the back, they have a sturdy defence which has let in just three goals in six Champions League group matches, and a measly 15 in 29 Serie A fixtures.
Last Friday's victory over Sassuolo saw goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon set a new club record after going 926 minutes without conceding a goal - four minutes short of Serie A's all-time mark.
They won't be the easy meat many are expecting them to be.
Bayern had better not think so.
Juventus will set up defensively. We want to be dominant and efficient with our chances early on. I’m optimistic, but also wary, because Juventus created two goals from relatively little in the first leg.
— Bayern Munich attacker Thomas Mueller
The first leg result puts them in the driver’s seat, so we can’t afford to go there and sit back. We have to just go for it.
— Juventus Midfielder Claudio Marchisio
Bayern are vulnerable on the break and Juventus will be lurking and 100 per cent ready to take their chances.
— Former Bayern Munich coach Ottmar Hitzfeld
(Juventus) will lie in wait for our mistakes and will attempt to be ice cold (in their finishing).
— Bayern Munich captain Philipp Lahm
BY THE NUMBERS
Bayern have had the most shots in the Champions League this season (150). They also taken the most shots on target (62) and are joint-highest scorers (21, alongside Real Madrid).
All of the five goals Bayern have conceded in the Champions League have come in the last 30 minutes.
71 per cent
Pep Guardiola's team have the highest average possession in the tournament (71 per cent)