Bayern are missing a few first team players, but their strength in depth should allow them to replace quality with quality. Jupp Heynckes is without the injured Toni Kroos, meaning Thomas Muller will continue in the central role and Arjen Robben will play on the right wing, while in attack Mario Gomez will replace the suspended Mario Mandzukic.
Tito Vilanova has more troubling absentees. Injuries to Carles Puyol and Javier Mascherano and a suspension for Adriano deprive Barcelona of three senior centre backs, meaning either young Marc Bartra will deputise or Eric Abidal will make only his second start of the season after returning from injury. Meanwhile Lionel Messi is likely to be risked despite not being fully fit.
With Bayern on course for a record points haul in the Bundesliga and a possible treble of German League and Cup to go with the Champions League, Barcelona are aware that they enter a European tie as underdogs for the first time in four years… (Read more)
Juventus’ task his made harder by the suspensions to Arturo Vidal and Stephan Lichtsteiner, although Paul Pogba and Mauricio Isla should be able deputies. Antonio Conte faces the usual dilemma in attack having failed to settle on a favoured partnership all season. The selection of Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Matri was a surprise and a failure, so Mirko Vucinic should start in place of one of them to offer greater movement.
Bayern Munich were dominant in the first leg and should be disappointed not to take a larger lead to Turin. The injury to Toni Kroos would usually be a cause for concern for Jupp Heynckes, but the performance of Thomas Muller in his place would suggest Kroos won’t be missed.
As mentioned in the first leg preview (found here), and largely supported by the performance, Bayern appear to have the perfect shape and selection to counter the threat posed by Juventus. Both managers are loyal to their preferred systems so a repeat is expected, although Conte will surely need to make allowances for his side’s failure to get into the game in Germany. This analysis will consider how Juventus can alter their system to stifle Bayern and cause them problems in attack… (Read more)
It says a lot about the strength of the Bundesliga leaders that Bayern Munich are likely to drop three players that contributed 7 goals and 4 assists in their 9-2 victory over Hamburg at the weekend. With Jupp Heynckes resting a number of key players, Claudio Pizarro, Xherdan Shaqiri and Arjen Robben are expected to find themselves benched in favour of Mario Mandzukic, Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller. Elsewhere Daniel van Buyten may return at the expense of Jerome Boateng in defence in what would be Heynckes first choice XI.
Juventus manager Antonio Conte can also choose his first choice side for what is likely to be the tie of the round.
This is arguably Juventus’ first real test under Conte and will put their domestic success into a European context. The blip against Arsenal aside, Bayern have looked all-conquering for much of this campaign and are many people’s favourites for the competition… (Read more)
The two teams come into this game with vastly differing fortunes. Arsenal’s defeat in the FA Cup to Championship side Blackburn leaves the Champions league as their only viable option of silverware, while Bayern have a fifteen point lead at the top of the Bundesliga have a 100% competitive record in 2013 with a goal difference of 13-0.
Arsene Wenger has rarely ventured too far from his favoured 4-2-3-1/4-2-1-3 formation, and has the opportunity to select his first choice front six following the return of Mikel Arteta from injury. Wenger has the option of moving Jack Wilshere into the advanced midfield position in place of Santi Cazorla to offer more solidity, but given that Arsenal are at home it is more likely the Spaniard will continue as the central playmaker. With Kieran Gibbs injured and Nacho Monreal cup-tied Thomas Vermaelen is likely to play at left full back. Jupp Heynckes also has few selection problems, and can pick his first choice XI. With Bayern Munich flying in the Bundesliga Heynckes can select his usual 4-2-1-3, with Toni Kroos’ positioning in central midfield determining the away side’s ambition.
The tactical match-up is likely to centre on the respective midfield triangles and the positioning of the wide forwards… (Read more)
With Bayern Munich flying at the top of the Bundesliga and Schalke currently experiencing a poor run of form, Schalke manager Jens Keller may drop his customary 4-3-3 shape in favour of a more defensive 4-1-4-1 as his predecessor did in the reverse fixture in September. Unfortunately they will be without first choice forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to lead the line, so must choose between Ciprian Marica and Teemu Fukki. Jupp Heynckes has no major selection concerns and will start with Bayern’s usual 4-2-1-3 shape. With such discrepancy in form between the two clubs Schalke will travel to Munich in the hope of avoiding defeating, while the home side will look to continue their excellent form… (Read more)