Bayern, Juventus aim to keep treble dream alive

Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery is chomping at the bit to make the team against Juventus and help his side progress.
Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery is chomping at the bit to make the team against Juventus and help his side progress.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BERLIN • Bayern Munich are confident they have overcome a mini-crisis just in time for their Champions League round of 16 second leg against Juventus tonight as they chase a treble of titles this season.

After conceding two second-half goals to draw 2-2 in Turin last month, the German football club's near-flawless season stuttered again after managing just one point from two league games.

However, they returned to form on Saturday, when they crushed Werder Bremen 5-0.

"I think we showed that we are in a very good form. We are looking towards Wednesday with optimism," Bayern's chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.

Bayern, chasing a record fourth consecutive Bundesliga title as well as the German Cup in what is coach Pep Guardiola's last season in charge, are in the driving seat, having scored twice in Italy and Juve need a win or a draw with three goals or more to advance.

The Bavarian club also have a perfect home record in the competition this season, having beaten Dinamo Zagreb, Arsenal and Olympiakos with an aggregate score of 14-1.

Until their shock 2-1 loss to Mainz two weeks ago, they had won 17 consecutive home games dating back to May last year.

With Mario Goetze making his comeback on Saturday after almost five months out and winger Franck Ribery getting much-needed match practice after his own long injury layoff, Bayern will have more depth than in the first game in Turin.

But Guardiola warned qualification will not be easy against the Italian side, last season's Champions League finalists who are also on course for a treble.

"We are playing against one of the best teams in Europe," the Spaniard said.

"They have not conceded a goal in their last 10 league games so expect a very complicated and uncomfortable game."

Juventus are in equally scintillating form, unbeaten in the league since October and having won 18 of their 19 league games since then.

Remarkably they have let in only one goal in their 12 Serie A matches this year and kept an unprecedented 10th successive clean sheet in the 1-0 win over Sassuolo Calcio last week.

"It will be a tremendous battle and we go to Munich full of enthusiasm and determination to reach the next round," defender Leonardo Bonucci said.

"We are fully aware of how strong Bayern are, but they also possess a few weak points which we will look to exploit."

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2016, with the headline 'Bayern, Juventus aim to keep treble dream alive'. Print Edition | Subscribe