European heavyweights Bayern Munich and Juventus clash in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal on Tuesday as Germany and Italy’s leading sides go head to head with points to prove.
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Both are former champions and both enjoy comfortable leads in their domestic leagues but crave international recognition after their respective recent setbacks.
Driven by the pain of losing last year’s final in its own stadium to Chelsea, Bayern is all but assured of capping its record-breaking season with the Bundesliga title after thrashing Hamburger SV 9-2 on Saturday.
Two-time winner Juventus is still striving to return to former European heights following the 2006 Calciopoli match-fixing scandal. Before departing for Munich, the defending Italian champion defeated Inter Milan 2-1 to stay nine points clear in Serie A.
"We’re going with a smile and without fear to Germany," said Juventus coach Antonio Conte. "Now we also have to show that we are capable of greatness in Europe."
Juventus is unbeaten in 18 games in UEFA club competition, including qualifying, and has won all five of its European quarterfinals against German opponents.
"Our dream is the Champions league final," said Juventus striker Fabio Quagliarella, who scored the first goal on Saturday.
Bayern and Juventus only previously met in the competition’s group stages, with the Italians claiming three wins from six games, and Bayern wining two.
Despite running away with the German title – if Bayern beats Eintracht Frankfurt next weekend it will become the earliest Bundesliga champion in history – coach Jupp Heynckes showed his respect for the visiting side by resting several regulars against Hamburg.
Internationals Thomas Mueller, Frank Ribery and Mario Mandzukic all started on the bench, while Germany striker Mario Gomez was ruled out with a thigh strain.
But Bayern still had enough firepower to post the most lopsided Bundesliga win in 13 years, with third-choice striker Claudio Pizarro scoring four.
"We played textbook football at times, and that’s basically what we have to do on Tuesday," Heynckes said. "But it definitely won’t be possible in the same way. Tuesday will be a totally different match. Juventus are one of the top teams in Europe, very aggressive and full of running."
Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer said there was "no comparison" between Juventus and Hamburg.
"Juve are clever, savvy. We need a good plan, personality and strategy in our game, we have to defend well," said Sammer, who was upset with the two goals conceded on Saturday. "Now we’ve conceded four goals from corners in a short space of time. I’m no moaner, I’m just pointing it out. That should wake us up."
Bayern only reached the quarterfinals on the away goals rule after an embarrassing 2-0 defeat at home to Arsenal.
"We can count ourselves lucky that their second goal only came four minutes from the end," Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said.
It was only the German powerhouse’s second defeat in 19 games at home, excluding last year’s final.
Gomez took a full part in training on Sunday and should be available, though first-choice striker Mandzukic is likely to keep him on the bench. The Croatia striker has 15 goals in the Bundesliga and will hope to add to his solitary contribution in the Bundesliga.
Impressive Austrian defender David Alaba should also be fit after picking up a knock in training before the Hamburg game.