Bayern take aim at Juve

BERLIN. — Bayern Munich host Juventus tonight in the Champions League soccer last 16 return-leg clash eager to cut out any mistakes and prevent a repeat of the Italians’ first-leg fightback.

Bayern host the Italian champions at the Allianz Arena looking to seal their fifth consecutive quarter-final appearance in the Champions League.

They were steaming towards the last eight when Thomas Mueller and Arjen Robben gave them a two-goal lead in Turin before Juventus pounced on mistakes in Munich’s ranks with goals by Paulo Dybala and Stefano Sturaro.

Juventus are in rich form, unbeaten in their last 19 games, but coach Massimiliano Allegri suffered a setback on Monday when Italy midfielder Claudio Marchisio dropped out of training with a calf injury.

Dybala is also out and Allegri was already missing defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Martin Caceres, while former Bayern striker Mario Mandzukic is nursing a knock.

Both Bayern coach Pep Guardiola and captain Philipp Lahm have warned the Germans can ill afford to make more mistakes for Juventus to again exploit.

And ex-Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld says the Italians are more than capable of pulling off an upset in Munich.

“After leading Juventus by 2-0, the 2-2 is not an ideal result,” Hitzfeld told Munich-based newspaper TZ.

“Bayern are vulnerable on the break and Juventus will be lurking and 100 percent ready to take their chances,” he added.

Mainz proved just how vulnerable Bayern are when they became the only side to win at the Allianz Arena this season with a 2-1 victory just over a fortnight ago.

Bayern lost despite enjoying 78 percent possession and firing in 17 shots on goal and Juventus’s analysts will note the way Mainz patiently took their chances.

Bayern’s injury crisis in defence has eased.

Guardiola is set to field Joshua Kimmich and Medhi Benatia at centre-back, but he has the luxury problem of knowing which stars to leave out, with Germany’s World Cup winner Mario Goetze now back from a groin injury.

His forwards Robert Lewandowski (34) and Thomas Mueller (27) have scored 61 goals between them this season in all competitions and they contributed three goals in Saturday’s 5-0 drubbing of Werder Bremen.

Their Spanish playmaker Thiago Alcantara also netted twice in an impressive display.

Juventus’s last Champions League win in Munich was back in 2004, but history favours the Italians.

Their record in two-legged ties against German sides is 13 wins and just three defeats, while Bayern’s overall record is won four and lost six times to opponents from Italy in European competition.

Guardiola is feeling the pressure to deliver silverware in his third and final season in Munich before taking over at Manchester City next season. — AFP.

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