Juventus, Pirlo, history will be challenges

Posted by Susie Schaaf

As Steve McManaman was picking balls out of a bowl Friday morning, choosing the opponents for the Champions League quarterfinal draw, I found myself up in the air about who I wanted Bayern Munich to face in the next round.

Borussia Dortmund drew Malaga first, Real Madrid got Galatasaray second, and then there were four teams left: Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Barcelona and FC Bayern. When PSG's name was called next, I thought "Well, with Zlatan Ibraimovic suspended the first leg, they are probably the easiest draw of the last three." But, it was not to be as McManaman next drew Barcelona.

-- Champions League draw analysis

In football, of course, you still have to maximise such luck. Many of the Leeds players, though, accused Bayern of doing exactly that -- except not with their ability.

Ah, so Bayern gets Juventus. While many would consider Bayern's first leg at home a disadvantage, I'm inclined to think the opposite going on their road form this season-- only losing to BATE Borisov away from the Allianz this term.

Throughout their European history, both German teams left in the competition have less-than-positive records against their opponents' respecitve nations. Bayern Munich has only won six times of 23 matches against Inter Milan, AC Milan and Juventus; Borussia Dortmund fares little better: Five wins, six draws and seven losses against Spanish sides.

Bayern Munich has been complacent of late, culminating in the progression to the quarterfinals with an embarrassing loss against Arsenal in the Allianz. Uli Hoeness was especially bitter, saying post-match: "We played crap football the past three weeks. We barely beat Hoffenheim and barely beat Duesseldorf. It doesn't matter who we get next."

While you may not appreciate the tone, truer words were never spoken. For all the talent this Bayern team possesses, it seems to fail them, of late, at the most inopportune times. The 2011 competition saw Inter come to Munich -- and toss out Bayern on away goals; the stunning loss of the 2012 final-- also at the Allianz, and yes, the Arsenal return leg this week.

You may also cite the Euro 2012 Germany-Italy match -- when the Germans fielded a Bayern Munich majority-- where Jogi Loew had no answer for Italy and Juventus playmaker Andrea Pirlo.

It will be up to Jupp Heynckes to solve the Pirlo problem this time around, and certainly makes for an interesting tactical battle -- one that doesn't feature Toni Kroos anywhere near Pirlo, as the German international bore the brunt of Pirlo's damage during the semifinal.

But, by UEFA magically keeping the two big Spanish and German teams apart, if the four can all manage to do their duties, it sets up mouth-watering semifinal and final Clasicos and Klassikers. Or, just some really good football. That is, if Bayern Munich wants to get on board.

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