Here we finally are. FC Bayern has the chance to seal its qualification for the regular stages of the Champions League, and the first leg of will be played in Munich at 2:45 PM Eastern (8:45 PM in Europe) on Wednesday. Setanta Sports has this one in Canada, while Fox Soccer has it in the USA.
Here is what you should look for in this match:
– Which Bayern will we see? There were signs that the team was changing its passing game in the first week. Then, the victory on Saturday was a last-gasp effort after 90 minutes of Van Gaal era football. Scary.
– On the other hand, it doesn’t matter how horrible FCB plays in the Bundesliga. It is an entirely different team in the Champions League. Keep in mind that this competition is a major revenue driver for this club (32.5 million euros last season). It also is a key source of pride. Expect everyone to be fired up and ready to play a solid match. I mean it.
– Arjen Robben will finally play at the same time than Franck Ribéry, since he will start. It is much harder to bottle these guys up when they are on the pitch together.
– Given his impact in the dying minutes of the last game, Ivica Olic could be subbed in much earlier this time. I would be surprised to see him starting, but if the attack takes too much time to get going, Heynckes will surely pull the trigger faster.
– FC Zürich, already a minnow in European football, has many injuries these days. I would expectit to park the bus in front of the goal, with the best organization it can possibly get.
– If Zürich goes with such a strategy, FCZ will only give forward Admir Mehmedi permission to get anywhere near Manuel Neuer, trying to stun us with a quick counter. After all, this is the main weakness of the Munich defense.
– With all of this in mind, Bayern should win. The status of favorites is a risk factor, but in the Champions League, this club rarely messes up early on.