Juventus manager Antonio Conte has conceded that his side let themselves down in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal last week when they lost 2-0 to Bayern Munich in Germany. Many anticipated a closely-matched contest, but the Italian champions conceded two poor goals to leave Bayern with a strong advantage heading into the return leg in Turin.
Conte has acknowledged that Bayern are one of the competition’s strongest sides, but is eager for his squad to put right the performance in Munich.
“We were not in good form in the first leg, we all know that,” he said, according to UEFA’s Web site. “We want to play a different game. We are up against a very, very strong side and we know we can do a lot better than we did in Germany. I know that my players want to demonstrate what maybe they didn't manage in Germany. Let's just see what happens tomorrow.”
Juventus will be handicapped in their efforts to turn the tie around by the absence through suspension of influential midfielder Arturo Vidal and wing-back Stephan Lichtsteiner.
Bayern will also be without a key player, with Toni Kroos having suffered a groin injury in the first leg that could rule him out for the rest of the season. Javi Martinez is back from suspension and could replace Luiz Gustavo at the base of the midfield.
Despite their strong lead, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes is keen for his side to play positively and without complacency.
“We'll approach the game as we did last Tuesday's, so of course we're going to try to win,” he explained. “Juventus have shown in the Champions League and Serie A that they are an absolutely top team. They are going to try to make the impossible possible. We'll keep faith with our system and play the way we've always played this season.”
Bayern claimed the earliest title win in Bundesliga history on Saturday as they best Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 to maintain their 20-point advantage at the top of the table.
D: Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini
M: Padoin, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah
F: Vucinic, Quagliarella
Bayern Munich (probable)
D: Lahm, Van Buyten, Dante, Alaba
M: Schweinsteiger. Martinez
Robben, Muller, Ribery
Prediction: It is hard to imagine that Juventus will be as bad as they were in the first leg when, in particular, their two most experienced players Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo were both uncharacteristically poor. The losses of Vidal and Lichtsteiner will not help, but, at least in the case of the Chilean, Juventus do have an adequate replacement in Paul Pogba. With Mirko Vucinic also back fit they should carry more of a threat up front.
Juventus can also take encouragement from the absence of Kroos from the Bayern team. The young Germany international has become a key component of the side in the past year with his all-round ability in the advanced midfield role. Thomas Muller, who looks set to come inside to fill that berth, is limited in comparison and, while he will offer a threat going forward, is not nearly as effective in helping his side control the center of the pitch.
It also remains to be seen whether almost letting a 3-0 first-leg lead slip against Arsenal in the last round will motivate Bayern to make sure that it doesn’t happen again or become a psychological burden.
Juventus can certainly make Bayern anxious in Turin, but ultimately the visitor’s advantage from the first leg should just prove decisive in earning them a spot in the last four.
Juventus 2-1 Bayern Munich
Where to watch: The UEFA Champions League quarterfinal second leg will kick-off at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Fox Soccer Plus, with a live stream available on Fox Soccer 2Go.