Bayern Munich finished last season without a single trophy, despite reaching the finals of both the DFB Pokal and the Champions League. They’ve rebounded this season with a vengeance, beating out Borussia Dortmund for the German Super Cup and going on to dominate the league while staying alive in both the DFB Pokal and the Champions League. However, while their league form has been emphatic, they’ve struggled in the Champions League, conceding more goals than any quarter-finalist but Real Madrid and moving on from the Round of 16 only on the away goals rule. It’s difficult to figure out how to judge Bayern Munich right now; on one hand, they’re still among the favorites, but on the other, it’s not really because they’ve been so convincing in this particular competition this season.
Juventus, on the other hand, have also had strong league form this season and reached the semi-finals of the Coppa Italia before being knocked out by Lazio. They also have a much more impressive Champions League record so far: they’re undefeated in the competition this season (the only quarter-finalist besides Borussia Dortmund that’s true for), and have conceded just four goals. Celtic were certainly one of the easier runners up from the group stage, but that doesn’t diminish Juventus’s accomplishments, particularly considering that they were in one of the tougher groups.
By the numbers:
|Shots (on target)||136 (50)||144 (48)|
The first leg of the tie is on April 2 at Munich. The second leg at Juventus will be played on April 10.
Bayern will be playing Hamburger, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Nurnberg around the two fixtures. All are reasonably solid teams, but they could be playing Borussia Dortmund all three times for all the good it would do Juventus. Bayern currently have 20 points on second-placed Dortmund. They could field youth players and lose all three games and still be assured of winning the title. If they need to rest players, they will.
Juventus, on the other hand, will be playing Inter, Pescara, and Lazio – Pescara currently sit in the relegation zone, but Inter and Lazio are both fighting hard for a place in Europe next season, and will be tough competition. Juventus also can’t afford to drop too many points – Napoli are nine points behind them, but that’s a cushion that could quickly evaporate if they end up with a couple draws and/or losses during the quarter-finals.
Objectively, Juventus should probably be regarded as favorites. They’ve been more impressive in the Champions League this season, and they’ve also had a strong showing in Serie A. On the other hand, Bayern have been dominating the Bundesliga – which is a stronger league – to an even greater extent, and while there have been some close calls, they’ve done enough to move on. They can also perhaps be forgiven for getting a bit complacent against Arsenal, and it’s a mistake I doubt they’ll make again.
This one is tough to call. I’m going to predict a Bayern win, though.