The second legs of the Round of 16 in the Champions League are underway. Will Bayern Munich be able to cope with the pressure and beat Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday?
Heading in to the Champions League, Bayern were seen as one of the favorites to lift the trophy on June 6 in Berlin. They stringed together several impressive performances in the Champions League Group Stage, where they won Group E with a total of 15 points in six games (5 wins and one loss). That was seven points ahead of star-studded Manchester City and 10 points ahead of AS Roma and CSKA Moscow. Only Real Madrid had more points in the group stages, but they played in a much weaker group than Bayern.
Pep Guardiola’s side drew 0-0 in the first leg against Shakhtar in the Ukraine. They had some chances to win the game, but now they will have to make sure to score more goals than Donetsk when they face them in the second leg on Wednesday at home at the Allianz Arena in Munich.
Bayern won the Champions League two seasons ago, and should they get past Shakhtar, then they will have to see who they get drawn against in the quarterfinal, but most likely they would be seen as the favorite.
For the second game against Shakhtar, Bayern will be without Xabi Alonso who’s suspended after getting sent off in the first meeting after getting to yellow cards. Alonso’s sending off made it difficult to push forward for better part of the second half (Alonso got sent off in the 65th min). They will also be without Javi Martinez, Philipp Lahm and Thiago Alcantara who are all out with injuries.
Even with these players absent, Bayern can field a really strong team including superstars like Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Muller is the teams leading goalscorer in the Champions League together with Mario Gotze who both have three goals so far.
Shakhtar is a good side, but they only ended in second place in Group H, five points behind FC Porto and two points ahead of Athletic Bilbao. The squeezed through with a record of two wins, three draws and one loss.
Donetsk will be without one of their best players in the Brazilian star left-winger Bernard who is out injured. However, they still have Luiz Adriano who has nine goals in six games and Alex Teixeira with three goals in seven games.
Bayern are undefeated at the Allianz Arena this season in all competitions, that includes 12 games in the Bundesliga, three games in the Champions League and one game in the German Cup. This is a really impressive record, and it will be a tough challenge for Shakhtar to crack through the Munich defense and hand them their first home-loss of the season.
Look for Bayern to take control of the game early and dominate possession, Shakhtar will have to rely on trying hit Munich on the counter attack and then close up shop if they manage to grab a goal as they away goal rule will see them go through if it ends up in a scored draw.
The Allianz Arena will be a kettle and it will be steaming of success hungry fans that will create a fantastic backdrop to this game.