Bayern's dynamic duo ready to challenge Juventus' defiant defence

Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller (left) and Robert Lewandowski have scored 56 goals in total in all competitions this season.
Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller (left) and Robert Lewandowski have scored 56 goals in total in all competitions this season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

ROME • Not much has thwarted the predatory instincts of Bayern Munich's Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski this season, but the pair will have their work cut out to pierce the rock-solid Juventus defence today.

Mueller and Lewandowski have scored a remarkable 56 goals between them in all competitions this season, but in today's Champions League round-of-16 tie, they will be up against a Juve rearguard which has kept nine straight clean sheets.

It is one of many reasons the tie at the Juventus Stadium is likely to be a titanic duel between the champions and leaders of Italy's Serie A and Germany's Bundesliga, even though Juve could lose top spot should Napoli beat AC Milan early this morning (Singapore time).

Both are unbeaten in all competitions since early December and both have exactly the same record in their last 10 matches - nine wins and one draw.

Bayern's last reverse, one of only two all season for Pep Guardiola's outfit, was against Borussia Moenchengladbach on Dec 5, while Juventus have not been beaten since they lost 0-1 at Sevilla in the Champions League on Dec 8.

There will also be a return to savour for Bayern midfielder Arturo Vidal, back at the club he helped to four Serie A titles in a row, while Juve striker Mario Mandzukic is also in line to face his former team-mates.

"We know that Bayern are one of the three best teams in the world, but we're playing at home and Juventus Stadium will give us a real boost," said the Italian club's defender Andrea Barzagli.

"Every team has their weaknesses and it's our job to find them."

Vidal has already promised he will not celebrate if he scores and told Gazzetta dello Sport that he was relishing the prospect of facing Paul Pogba in midfield.

The teams last met in the quarter-finals of the same competition three seasons ago, when Bayern won both legs 2-0.

Since that second leg, Juventus have played 16 European home games without defeat.

Overall, Juventus and Bayern have met eight times with only two wins for Juventus - the last in 2005.

Former Bayern forward Miroslav Klose summed up the difficulties facing the Bavarian side.

"I know from my own experience that it's very, very hard to score against Juve," said Klose, who now plays in Serie A with Lazio.

"They're very compact and their defence is very organised even when they lose possession. They also have great quality in the centre and up front.

"You don't want to go a goal down against them."

He added: "Bayern might make it difficult for Juve in their own half with aggressive pressing. They have to disrupt their build-up play and be quick on the break. This is Juve's weakness if you can call it one after so many wins."


StarHub Ch202, tomorrow, 3.40am.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'Bayern's dynamic duo ready to challenge Juventus' defiant defence'. Print Edition | Subscribe