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Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Benfica

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Offline Emisphere

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Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Benfica
« on: April 05, 2016, 12:20:07 PM »

Bayern Munich will host Benfica at the Allianz Arena for the first leg of their
Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday looking to put one foot in the last four.
The five-time European champions are the heavy favourites to make it through the tie, but come up against one of the continent's most in-form teams

Bayern Munich

The Bayern Munich players will go into Tuesday's match with the words of manager Pep Guardiola ringing in their ears: "Only the treble will do" .
The 45-year-old has not yet won the Champions League with Bayern having lifted the trophy twice at Barcelona and taken over the Bavarian giants when they were holders of the competition.
It is last-chance saloon this season for him to change that, with a summer switch to Manchester City on the horizon, and he has admitted that anything less than success on all fronts would be a disappointment.
Domestic glory is almost assumed for Bayern now, although Borussia Dortmund have kept up the chase and are only five points adrift of Munich, who have also made it to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal.
There is much greater competition in the Champions League, although with the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain still in the tournament, Bayern will feel that they have been dealt one of the kindest draws available to them in the last eight.
That at least makes up for the previous round, when they were drawn against last season's runners-up Juventus and were just minutes away from crashing out of the competition.
Bayern had already thrown away a 2-0 lead in the first leg to give Juventus a route back into the match, and the Italian champions looked to be on course for a stunning victory when they went two up inside half an hour in the second leg at the Allianz Arena.
However, Robert Lewandowski sparked a comeback with a little over 15 minutes remaining, and after Thomas Muller had rescued extra time with a 91st-minute strike, further goals from
Thiago Alcantara and Kingsley Coman wrapped up a dramatic 4-2 win on the night and 6-4 triumph on aggregate.
A fifth consecutive year in the semi-final now beckons, but Bayern will be wary of what happened to them at the same stage of last season, when they were also drawn against Portuguese opposition.
Porto picked up a surprise 3-1 win in the first leg on that occasion, but Bayern stormed back with a 6-1 victory in Munich before succumbing to Lionel Messi 's genius in the semi-finals.
Bayern come into this match having lost just one of their last 18 outings in all competitions, including an ongoing run of four wins in a row and four clean sheets from their last five games.
They have won 20 of their last 21 home matches in all competitions too, while in the Champions League alone they are on a club-record 10-match winning streak at the Allianz Arena that has seen them score 40 goals and concede just six.
They are the highest scorers in this season's competition with 25 from their eight games, and with Lewandowski and Muller in career-best goalscoring form this term, they will be looking to build a healthy lead to take to Portugal for next week's second leg.
Recent form: LWWWDW
Recent form (all competitions): LDWWWW


Compared with some of the other teams in this competition, it is fair to say that Benfica are underdogs to go much further.
The club has a rich history in Europe's elite tournament, winning the trophy twice and reaching a further five finals, but they haven't progressed past this stage since they last made it all the way to the final in 1990.
While those comparisons with the likes of Bayern, Barcelona and Real Madrid may be unflattering to Benfica, their current form stands up against any other team on the continent.
They have won each of their last eight matches in all competitions and 19 of their last 20, with the only exception being a league defeat to title rivals Porto in February.
That is their only loss in 22 matches since they were beaten by Atletico Madrid in their final group game to see them finish second behind the 2014 runners-up, although earlier in the groups they had dropped points to both Galatasaray and Astana too.
The draw for the last 16 was kind to
Rui Vitoria's men, though, as they came up against Zenit St Petersburg and were able to pick up a 3-1 aggregate victory over the Russian outfit.
A win over Bayern would be a much more significant achievement, but for now at least Benfica are also still in with a shout of the treble this season as they lead the Primeira Liga by five points and have reached the semi-finals of their domestic cup.
With Jonas in his current form, they will feel that they always have a chance of nicking a goal too. The 32-year-old Brazilian has 18 goals in 16 appearances so far in 2016 and is Europe's deadliest striker this season having reached the 30-goal mark in the league at the weekend.
Indeed, Benfica are one of only two teams, alongside Barcelona, to have scored in every one of their Champions League games so far this season, and with 16 wins from their 19 home games this term, if they can score an away goal in Munich then they may fancy their chances of causing an upset.
Their away form this season has actually been better than their home form, with 11 consecutive victories on the road and no defeats since November - a run of 15 matches.
However, it is a different story in the Champions League where they have won just three of their last 16 away games, although two of those victories have come this season.
Recent form: LWDLWW
Recent form (all competitions): WWWWWW

Guardiola will be without Dutch winger Arjen Robben for this match due to a groin injury.
Coman should be fit to return having missed the victory over Frankfurt at the weekend with a minor muscle problem, though, while Douglas Costa and
Arturo Vidal will be hoping for a recall to the starting XI.
The hosts could have problems at the back, though, as both Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber have been ruled out, while Medhi Benatia and Javi Martinez are doubts for the match.
At the other end of the field, Bayern will be looking to Lewandowski as their main goal threat, with the Poland international having scored 44 times in 47 appearances for club and country this season.
Benfica have injury worries of their own with Lisandro Lopez (thigh) and Luisao (arm) both sidelined, in addition to
Nuno Santos (knee) and goalkeeper
Julio Cesar (thigh).
Former Fulham striker Kostas Mitroglou scored twice at the weekend to take his season's tally to 17, and he is once again expected to join Jonas up front.
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Martinez, Alaba, Bernat; Lahm, Alonso, Vidal, Ribery, Muller, Costa; Lewandowski
Benfica possible starting lineup:
Ederson; Semedo, Samaris, Nilsson Lindelof, Eliseu; Pizzi, Fejsa, Sanches, Gaitan; Mitroglou, Jonas


These two have been drawn together on three previous occasions in European competition, with Bayern winning each time and going on to reach the final that year on every occasion.
Bayern won the European Cup in 1975-76 and the UEFA Cup in 1995-96 having knocked Benfica out along the way, while in 1981-82 they once again overcame the Portuguese outfit on the way to the European Cup final, only to be beaten by Aston Villa.
Benfica have lost all three of their previous away games against Bayern, conceding 13 goals in the process at an average of 4.3 per game, and in 21 previous visits to Germany they have only picked up two victories.
Bayern's defeat to Porto at this stage last season ended a 15-match unbeaten streak against Portuguese opposition, but their home record remains unblemished with nine wins and two draws from 11 games.

We say: Bayern Munich 3-1 Benfica
Benfica may be in superb form coming into this match, but Bayern are a step up from what they are used to facing. Guardiola's side showed in the last round that they are not infallible, and Benfica will fancy their chances of nicking an away goal, but it is hard to see anything other than a home victory in this match.


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