Posted by Salman Mitha

Posted in Champions League / Football


UEFA Champions League Preview: FC Bayern Munich vs. Olympique Marseille

Allianz Arena, April 2At the press conference before their return leg of the Champions League quarterfinals, players and coaches from both Olympique Marseille and Bayern Munich want to believe.  Each team made a case as to why they will win and move on to the semifinals, the matter to be settled tonight.

Sport Eagle will have Salman Mitha live from the Allianz Arena tweeting his insight and analysis.  Follow him at @Sal_SportEagle.

For the French, they want to believe that all is not lost after giving up two road goals to the Bavarians in last week’s loss.  And they believe they can be the first team to overcome such a deficit.

Meanwhile, Bayern thoughts of hosting and playing in the final on May 19th get stronger with each impressive victory.  And they believe they can be the first team to do just that.

The deficit for Marseille and the form of Bayern lend to a cakewalk on Tuesday night, but both clubs relied on clichés to keep focus and belief.

“One cannot expect that an opponent with stay back and let us through the quarterfinal,” stated Munich striker Mario Gomez.  “It’s going to be another heated match.  We are not going to try to hold back and keep the result, we will try to win tomorrow.”

Gomez is the team’s leading scorer in all competitions and is only second to Lionel Messi of Barcelona in total goals in the tournament this year, 12-11.  The last time he played a home game in the Champions League, he tallied four goals in 24 minutes, the quickest in history of Europe’s top club competition, as Bayern shellacked Basel 7-0.

Munich have not lost a Champions League game at home all season, outscoring all opponents 17-3 with three clean sheets.  So if Marseille need at least 3 goals to have a chance, why should they show up?

“While knowing that Bayern are very strong opponents, we still believe in ourselves, we still believe in our qualities and in our chances,” said OM goalkeeper Steve Mandanda.  “Tomorrow we will try everything to perhaps still accomplish the impossible.”

Team captian Mandanda was unable to play in the first match due to suspension and his replacement Elinton Andrade was taken to school by Gomez, who’s strike went underneath the body right before the halftime whistle.  Dutch winger Arjen Robben iced the game with a goal in the 69th minute.

With Mandanda back, there’s still the task of Marseille’s defense to stop what will be a Red Wave of attacks from all sides. 

“We need to play offensively and take risks while still being careful in defense,” said defender César Azpilicueta.  “There are 90 minutes left and we must believe in ourselves. We must try everything we can to win the game and go through to the semis.”

Perhaps a goal at the beginning of the match may help the visitors, their belief may grow.  But if they are to do it, they will need to take more than the eight shots they took in the first match.  Despite their lack of firepower, they are a dangerous team, scoring in stoppage time both times against Inter Milan in the round of 16 to set up this quarterfinal match.

Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes told the press he has warned his team.  “First we won’t underestimate our opponent, and second we respect our opponents.  My team is focused on this match.  I think we will go into this match very serious and then we will be successful.”

Kickoff is at 20:45 CET and the match is sold out. 

Editor’s Note: Sport Eagle will have Salman Mitha live from the Allianz Arena tweeting his insight and analysis.  Follow him at @Sal_SportEagle.

Bayern Games Notes (Source: UEFA)

Arjen Robben was also on target for Bayern in Marseille; the Dutchman’s last seven UEFA Champions League goals have all come in the competition’s knockout stages…

Bayern have won 12 of their last 13 UEFA Champions League home outings. This season they have won five in a row; they last lost in last season’s round of 16 when Inter won 3-2 in Munich to eliminate their hosts on away goals…

Last season’s setback was the first time in 21 UEFA ties in which Bayern had won the first leg away but lost the tie. Of the four occasions Bayern recorded a 2-0 away first-leg victory, they subsequently earned three draws and a victory in the home returns.

Home Sweet Home in the Champions League – FC Bayern Munich have lost twice and drawn on the road, but are unbeaten at the Allianz Arena this year in Europe’s top club competition.  They are hoping for two more matches, the semifinal and the final.

Qualification, Aug 17 vs. FC Zürich 2-0
Group Phase, Sep 27 vs. Manchester City 2-0
Group Phase, Nov 2 vs. SSC Napoli 3-2
Group Phase, Nov 22 vs. FC Villarreal 3-1
Knockout Round, March 13 vs. FC Basel 7-0
Quarterfinals, April 3 vs. Olympique Marseille, tonight

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