Bayern Munich produced an excellent performance that saw them defeat Juventus 2-0.
Jupp Heynckes’ men played in their traditional 4-2-3-1, and Mario Mandzukic led the line. Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and Franck Ribery played behind the Croatian striker, while Luiz Gustavo and Bastian Schweinsteiger protected the back four. Javi Martinez was unavailable due to suspension.
There were reports that Conte’s men would line up in a 3-5-1-1, but they ended up sticking with their traditional 3-5-2. Fabio Quagliarella and Alessandro Matri started up front, while Stephan Lichtsteiner and Federico Peluso played as wingbacks. Andrea Pirlo, Claudio Marchisio and Arturo Vidal formed a midfield three.
Bayern Munich showed why they’re one of the elite sides in European football, they were the superior side throughout the entire match and prevented Juventus from playing their style of football.
A key element in this match was the matter in which Bayern pressed. The front three in Mandzukic, Ribery and for the most part, Arjen Robben would press the Juventus back three when they tried to play from the back. Toni Kroos did a better job on Pirlo compared to their Euro 2012 semi-final meeting, and when he left the match early in the first half because of injury, Muller took over that role and did a good job in tracking Pirlo. Conte’s men were unable to build from the back and often played wasteful long balls back to the Bayern defenders.
Along with being unable to establish a passing rhythm, Juventus conceded possession several times in their own third, and were lucky not to be punished. Bayern’s pressure affected Marchisio and Pirlo and combined, both men received the ball 51 times throughout the entire match – Schweinsteiger received the ball 55 times alone.
It’s been proven that Pirlo can be shut down, by closing him down and limiting his time on the ball his influence can be greatly reduced. Bayern did this, as well as prevented Juventus from playing from the back and Conte’s men struggled.
Quagliarella and Matri came off impressive games against Inter Milan over the weekend, but were unable to provide any threat in the match. They were often isolated figures, and whenever they did receive service, which was minimal, they were unable to turn as Van Buyten and Dante dealt with them in a fine manner.
Conte’s men on the other hand pressed half-heartedly. They occasionally closed down the Bayern defenders, as they looked keen on inviting pressure and breaking to hit Bayern on the counter with Quagliarella and Matri high up the pitch. The problem with this was that no Juventus player picked up Schweinsteiger and he was able to stamp his authority on the match. Schweinsteiger was able to pick up the ball from deep positions to start plays as well as pick passes freely, while Pirlo was unable to receive the ball – that was the difference.
Bayern’s wide players
Heynckes received some terrible news post-match, as it’s being reported that Toni Kroos suffered a double muscle tear and will be out for approximately 6-8 weeks. This forced Heynckes to introduce Robben into the match, and he moved to the right side of the attack, while Muller played in a central position. Surprisingly, the Bavarians were stronger after the introduction of Robben.
On their day Ribery and Robben possess the ability to terrorize fullbacks and they were carving open Juventus’ backline in the first half. It was mostly on the right, where we saw Robben skipping past defenders. Phillip Lahm and David Alaba surged forward throughout the game, running into space, allowing Bayern to dominate on the flanks.
Peluso failed to make a significant impact and Lichtsteiner rarely got forward. Marchisio tracked Lahm’s run, but Robben was still able to get himself into good positions. Alaba pushed forward with caution, as he feared Vidal or Lichtsteiner would expose the space in behind him, but Conte’s men were struggling to cope with Ribery as well.
Kroos is arguably Bayern’s most important player, but their early dominance continued even when Robben replaced him. Robben and Ribery provided a direct threat on the wings, and although they didn’t have great games, they gave the Juventus backline several problems.
Mario Mandzukic has had an impressive year thus far, since joining the Bavarians over the summer.
Mandzukic has pushed German international Mario Gomez to the bench, and has added a dimension that Heynckes’ men lacked last season. Mandzukic provides mobility, energy, and an ability to lead the line and press, and is what merits him a place in the starting lineup over Gomez.
Mandzukic is key in terms of pressing as he leads the line, and he did so today in a fantastic manner. The Croatian striker pressed hard and forced the Juventus back three to concede possession in their final third, and he also dropped deeper without the ball to help his side break up plays and track Pirlo.
It was a fantastic display by the Bayern striker and he was by far the most influential player on the pitch.
Gianluigi Buffon is arguably the best goalkeeper in world football along with Iker Casillas, and what separates these men from the rest, is they rarely make errors.
Buffon will be blamed for both goals today, and it’s unlike him to make errors of this magnitude on such a big stage. Nevertheless, he was one of Juventus’ best players, making several key saves to keep the Old Lady in the tie.
Buffon had a disappointing outing in the first leg, but he also prevented a possible Bayern blowout.
Conte didn’t change much at half time, he did notice that Schweinsteiger was receiving too much time on the ball, so he told Vidal to press the German in the second half.
Conte brought in Sebastian Giovinco and Mirko Vucinic for Quagliarella and Matri, and despite a few openings, they failed to make a significant impact in the match. Juventus’ best chances arrived when Vidal (in the first half) and Vucinic in the second half picked the ball up in between the lines and ran at the Bayern defence, frankly this didn’t happen nearly enough.
Conte finally brought on Pogba for Peluso, but it was too late, and the Bianconeri were unable to nick an away goal. Heynckes made like for like substitutions towards the end of the game, but neither were to change his side’s shape.
It was a surprise to see a Champions League quarter-final without a tactical theme, considering the game possessed two tactically astute coaches.
Bayern pressed effectively, forcing Juventus into conceding possession in their own third and preventing Pirlo from having an impact on the match. Bayern’s ability to retain possession quickly, along with penetrating wide areas was vital. Considering all the chances the Bavarian’s created they’ll be upset that they failed to put this tie out of reach because a two-goal victory flatters Conte’s men.
“Bayern pressed us constantly and kept the tempo up, so we really struggle in the one-on-one due to their physicality too. I can’t get angry or point the finger at someone who could have given more this evening. In football you must be honest and admit tonight Bayern showed they were superior.” – Conte post-match
Conte’s men need to score at least three goals at the Juventus Stadium next week if they intend on progressing to the semi-finals. It’s surely possible, even with Lichtsteiner and Vidal suspended, but will the Bianconeri be able to prevent Bayern from scoring an away goal?
Despite Bayern’s finishing in the final third, Heynckes will be pleased with the result, but what might alarm him is the news on Kroos’ injury. They coped well without the German playmaker last night, but his presence is irreplaceable, and it is a massive blow for the Bavarians.
1. Mario Mandzukic
2. Bastian Schweinsteiger
3. Thomas Muller