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Champions League preview: Juventus primed for European revival facing Bayern Munich

Updated: Tuesday, 02 Apr 2013 21:24 | Comments

Juventus eased past Celtic to qualify for the quarter-finals
Juventus eased past Celtic to qualify for the quarter-finals

Juventus will enter tonight's heavyweight clash with Bayern Munich with smiles on their faces, an 18-match unbeaten record in Europe behind them and no concerns about the Bavarians' nine-goal demolition of Hamburg.

The quarter-final first leg is a match where the Champions League can live up to its hype, with teams who have dominated the season in Germany and Italy respectively and share 50 domestic titles between them.

Bayern, who won 4-1 in Turin when the teams last met in the 2009/10 season, have a 20-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga and produced their most emphatic win of the season on Saturday when they flattened Hamburg 9-2.

They need two more points from six games to wrap up their 23rd German league title.

Italian champions Juventus come into the game with a nine-point lead at home and well on course for a 29th Serie A title.

"We'll head to Munich with a spring in our step knowing that we've done our job on the domestic front," said Juventus coach Antonio Conte after his side won 2-1 away to bitter rivals Inter Milan on Saturday.

"We'll head there to keep alive our dream and to test our mettle in the European arena, and we'll do it with a smile and no fear," added Conte, himself a rather dour figure.

"We just want to see how far behind Europe's best we are. We'll try to put out a strong physical side but I'll sleep on it first," he added.

Back in the quarter-finals after a seven-year wait, Juventus have been happy to accept the underdogs' role, saying they cannot match the brash Bavarians' spending power.

Yet, in European terms, they have looked more impressive than their opponents. Although Bayern are a fearsome prospect on their day, they are prone to sudden lapses especially at the Allianz Arena which hosts the first leg.

They lost last season's Champions League final at their own stadium, beaten on penalties by Chelsea after a 1-1 draw, and were knocked out by Inter Milan at home two seasons ago, losing 3-2 in front of their own fans after winning the first leg 1-0 away.

Bayern suffered another bout of Allianz jitters earlier this month when, having won 3-1 at Arsenal in the first leg of their last-16 tie, they froze in the return and lost 2-0, surviving by the skin of their teeth thanks to the away goals rule.

Bayern also suffered a shock 3-1 defeat away to BATE Borisov in the group stage this season, although they bounced back convincingly to reach the last 16.

Juventus, aiming to reach the semi-finals for the first time in a decade, have not lost in European competition for three years since a 4-1 defeat to Fulham in the Europa League.

They were knocked out of the following year's Europa League without losing any of their 10 games and are also unbeaten in the current campaign, where they have won their last six games.

Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, struggling to contain the climate of jubilation at a club nicknamed FC Hollywood, did his best to calm things down after Saturday's gala display.

"We played textbook football at times, and that's basically what we have to do on Tuesday," said Heynckes, who will be without midfielder Javi Martinez because the Bundesliga's record signing is suspended.

"It definitely won't be possible in the same way," he said cautiously. "Tuesday will be a totally different match. Juventus are one of the top teams in Europe, very aggressive and full of running."

Teams:
Bayern Munich:
1-Manuel Neuer; 21-Philipp Lahm, 5-Daniel Van Buyten, 4-Dante, 27-David Alaba; 6-Bastian Schweinsteiger; 25-Thomas Mueller, 39-Toni Kroos, 10-Arjen Robben, 7-Franck Ribery; 9-Mario Mandzukic
Juventus: 1-Gianluigi Buffon; 15-Andrea Barzagli, 3-Giorgio Chiellini, 19-Leonardo Bonucci; 21-Andrea Pirlo; 23-Arturo Vidal, 6-Paul Pogba, 8-Claudio Marchisio, 22-Kwadwo Asamoah; 32-Alessandro Matri, 27-Fabio Quagliarella.

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