Bayern's defence is terrible, says Gary Lim
Pep's men are terrific in attack but can be terrible in defence
ROUND OF 16, SECOND LEG
BAYERN MUNICH 4
(Robert Lewandowski 73, Thomas Mueller 90+1, Thiago Alcantara 108, Kingsley Coman 110)
(Paul Pogba 5, Juan Cuadrado 28)
● After extra time, Bayern win 6-4 on aggregate.
When Juventus defender Patrice Evra claimed before the match that they had found Bayern Munich's weakness, not many took him too seriously.
At the end of an enthralling encounter which went all the way to extra-time at the Allianz Arena yesterday morning (Singapore time), Massimiliano Allegri's men almost exploited the chinks in Bayern's armour to pull off a sensational victory.
Juventus led 2-0 and 4-2 on aggregate for a good 72 minutes before goals from Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller sent the game into extra time.
The class of Bayern eventually prevailed as they won 4-2, but it was not lost on observers that the Italian champions laid bare the Achilles' heel of the Bavarian giants.
The Old Lady, staring in the headlights of the oncoming juggernaut, slyly went for the soft underbelly.
They knew Bayern's defence was there for the taking.
The open admiration by all and sundry of the slick Bayern attacking machine had somehow masked over a glaring problem at the base.
The hosts were missing key defenders and long-term absentees in Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber.
Juventus coach Allegri went for the jugular.
He crafted an attacking game plan aimed at pummelling a suspect backline that had Medhi Benatia and the young Joshua Kimmich in the centre.
From the outset, Juventus pressed the hosts high up the field and it worked a treat.
Led by striker Alvaro Morata from the front, the visitors functioned as a well-oiled unit and their high-tempo game caught Bayern by surprise.
The midfield five of Juan Cuadrado, Sami Khedira, Hernanes, Paul Pogba and Alex Sandro targeted the space between the Bayern centre backs and defensive midfielders.
Bayern didn't see this coming.
They anticipated the opponents sitting back and hitting them on the counter-attack.
Mueller went as far as saying before the match that "the Italians do not have a problem sitting back and defending".
It didn't take long for Allegri's strategy to work its magic.
Five minutes, to be exact.
In the first leg which ended 2-2 three weeks ago, Juventus turned to the aerial approach to score the equaliser and, yesterday morning, it reaped the rewards again.
Poor David Alaba failed to deal with a high ball, and the onrushing Manuel Neuer could only divert Stephan Lichtsteiner's shot into the path of Pogba, who swept the ball into the net to put Juventus 1-0 up and 3-2 ahead on aggregate.
Bayern's defence was rattled and Juventus went for the kill.
By the 28th minute, they were 2-0 up and had one foot into the Champions League quarter-finals.
A Bayern attack broke down and it was shocking that it was left back Alaba who lost the ball just outside the Juventus penalty box and in a central area.
Morata received the ball deep in his own half and embarked on a superb run that cut through Bayern's heart, taking out five defenders before slipping a pass to Cuadrado to finish with aplomb.
Just as they did when they scored their first goal in the first leg, Juventus had caught Bayern on the break.
The Serie A leaders had excellent opportunities to grab a third to kill off the tie, but spurned them. It would return to haunt them.
Bayern survived a huge scare but their defensive frailties must have been noted by the other quarter-finalists.
Coach Pep Guardiola said after the match that he hopes this would "serve as a lesson".
The Spaniard will be thankful that utility man Martinez is close to a return, and should feature when the next round begins early next month.
Boateng, though, isn't likely to return to team training until next month, while Badstuber is possibly out for the rest of the season.
There are chinks in the Bayern armour, and Juventus won't be the last to exploit them.
Pep could meet City in quarters
The Champions League quarter-final draw today promises to throw up plenty of mouth-watering ties, including the possibility of Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola meeting his future employers Manchester City.
Manuel Pellegrini is leaving the Etihad Stadium in the summer, but he has guided the Citizens to this stage for the first time and could come up against Guardiola, who will succeed the Chilean at City next season.
Bayern came through a scintillating tie against Juventus with an extra-time victory yesterday morning (Singapore time), with Guardiola striving to end his stay in Germany by winning the Champions League - something he has yet to achieve with the Bavarian side.
For Pellegrini, the chance to put one over his successor would no doubt appeal, and the Chilean insisted earlier in the week he would have no concerns coming up against Bayern, despite winning just one of their last four meetings.
"Facing him would not be a problem, no," Pellegrini told the Sunday Mirror. "First of all, we have to see the draw.
"All of them (the quarter-finalists) are very good, but I prefer to avoid two or three teams, although I won't tell you which ones. You can guess."
Bayern are in bullish mood after their recovery against Juve, with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer telling the German federation's official website: "I think the better team have reached the quarter-finals. We can now see what happens next and I'm also thinking that no team will want Bayern (in the draw)."
It could also be a reunion with Barcelona rather than a tie against City that awaits Guardiola in the next round, after the Catalan giants saw off Arsenal in the Round of 16.
Luis Enrique is now the man in the dugout at the Nou Camp and he has masterminded a 38-game unbeaten run across all competitions and can call upon the stellar strike force of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, who have 106 goals between them this season.
Barcelona are also looking to become the first team to retain the European Cup in the Champions League era and Enrique is happy to take on all comers.
"The only team I don't want to face is Barca, and it's a certainty that we won't," he said after a 3-1 victory over the Gunners yesterday morning saw them comfortably through to the last eight.
"Obviously, we have unique players but, in the end, the great thing about this team is they work collectively in both attack and defence."
Spain have two other representatives in today's draw - Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
Real, 10-time winners of the European Cup, squeezed past Roma to get through, with coach Zinedine Zidane no doubt dreaming of leading the club to an 11th crown, having scored a memorable winning goal to deliver their ninth back in 2002.
It was city rivals Atletico whom Real beat in Lisbon to win "La Decima" in May 2014 and the pair could meet again this year.
Diego Simeone's side are out-performing Real in the league, but needed a penalty shoot-out to see off PSV Eindhoven in the Round of 16, following the first Champions League tie to finish goalless over both legs.
Paris St Germain, meanwhile, can turn their full attention to winning their first European Cup, with Laurent Blanc's side having already wrapped up the Ligue 1 title in style.
Inspired by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG secured the crown on Sunday with a 9-0 hammering of Troyes and will now be looking to complete their transition into continental superpowers, having knocked Chelsea out in the previous round.
The two outsiders are Wolfsburg and Benfica and, although neither will be taken lightly, the big-hitters will surely be hoping to be drawn against them. - PA Sport.
"When facing an Italian side at 2-0 down, to make four goals is outstanding. A big compliment to my team.
If you want to win, you have to beat the big teams in Europe and Juventus are awesome.
There’s only regret about how we started, not in the right way, we hope will serve as a lesson for the quarter-finals."
Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola (giving Franck Ribery some encouragement)
LAST 8 STANDING
- Atletico Madrid (Spain)l Barcelona (Spain)l Bayern Munich (Germany)l Benfica (Portugal)l Manchester City (England)l Paris Saint-Germain (France)l Real Madrid (Spain)l Wolfsburg (Germany)
- Quarter-final draw at 7pm tonight (Singapore time).
- Teams from the same countries can be drawn to face each other.