Bundesliga giants take on the Old Lady of Italian football in what promises to be a classic encounter.
Bayern Munich tackle Juventus in a Champions League culture clash on Tuesday with the Germans pitting their incisive attacking finesse against the Italians’ defensive bloody-mindedness.
Bayern, on the verge of a 23rd Bundesliga title, routed Hamburg 9-2 on Saturday to take their goals tally to 78 with just 13 conceded in the Bundesliga while finding the net 18 times in the Champions League.
Juventus, enjoying a nine-point lead in Serie A, have conceded only 19 goals in 30 league games this season and just four in the Champions League.
Forty of Bayern’s domestic goals have come from a combination of Franck Ribery, Tony Kroos, Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Mueller while, should he be required, veteran Claudio Pizarro will be waiting in the wings.
The 34-year-old Peruvian striker showed his instincts are just as sharp as ever when he hit four against Hamburg.
Attempting to keep the ravenous Bavarians at bay will be Juventus’s defensive spine of Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini.
Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon conceded the last of his four goals in the third of their six group games — a stretch of 490 minutes. Even that goal came from a direct free-kick, not open play.
Juventus believe their defensive strengths are just as impressive as those which helped rivals AC Milan to two Champions League triumphs in 2003 and 2007.
“We don’t have the likes of Alessandro Nesta, Paulo Maldini and Fabio Cannavaro, they are impossible to equal. However, we are not doing too badly,” said Bonucci.
“Under our coach (Antonio Conte) we have made enormous progress.”
The Italians will be looking to continue that progress in Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg at Bayern’s Allianz Arena, hoping to emulate Arsenal’s display in the last 16 when the Londoners snatched a shock 2-0 win.
That result, which came after Bayern had won the first leg 3-0 in London, was the seventh time in eight matches in the tournament this season that they had failed to keep a clean sheet.
But Bayern are on a mission to capture the trophy for a fourth time having lost to Chelsea in a heart-breaking penalty shoot-out in last year’s final.
“I still think about it, because it was almost a home game for us,” said Bayern star Bastian Schweinsteiger.
“The stage was all set for us to win, and the defeat just shouldn’t have happened. You try to come to terms with it but it’s not easy, because the match is still too present in my mind. But it also acts as added motivation this season.
“It’ll be a very, very tough match on Tuesday. Juventus are one of the best teams in Europe, and they’re unbeaten in the Champions League. They’re very smart, ruthless and cunning. Give them one chance and they’ll score.”
Juventus could face the Bavarian giants without striker Sebastian Giovinco, who suffered an ankle knock at the end of Saturday’s 2-1 win at Inter Milan.
“In Italy we’re on the right road (to success) but now we have to show what we’re made of in Europe,” Conte said.
“We’re going to Munich with no fear and a lot of confidence. We’ll be up against a strong Bayern side, but we believe in this dream.”