Besiktas v Bayern Munich
Wednesday March 14, 17:00
Live on BT Sport Extra
Munich mauling part of Besiktas' learning curve
The Champions League can be an unforgiving place and Besiktas saw every mistake punished brutally at the Allianz Arena, as they lost 5-0 to Bayern in the first leg. The early sending-off of Domagoj Vida, forced to hack down Robert Lewandowski on the edge of the box after errors had been made elsewhere, proved a turning point.
Besiktas have been developing steadily in the last few seasons under the watchful gaze of wily coach Senol Gunes. They are still in contention to win a third consecutive Turkish Super Lig title (they are three points behind leaders Galatasaray), and since their defeat to Bayern they have won all three of their league matches. Last season's deep run in the Europa League, and progress to this stage of this season's Champions League will have taught this group a lot.
The Black Eagles are unbeaten at home in the Champions League, having beaten RB Leipzig and drawn 1-1 with both Porto and Monaco. They haven't lost any of their last 19 matches at the Vodafone Arena, and they have only been beaten once at home all season.
Vida is suspended and Pepe is injured, so Gary Medel and Dusan Tosic will likely deputise. Portuguese wing wizard Ricardo Quaresma missed the weekend's league action because of suspension, so he'll be well rested.
Bayern purring as final stretch of season beckons
It's been a curious season for Bayern, with the controversial dismissal of coach Carlo Ancelotti now just a footnote in the club's sparkling history. The Italian won the Bundesliga by 15 points last term, but was axed due to a lack of intensity in training, and a perceived failure to improve players on his watch.
Veteran Jupp Heynckes was brought back for another spell in charge, and has barely put a foot wrong. Bayern have carved out a 20-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, and are in the semi-finals of the DFB Cup. Although they weren't quite at their best against Besiktas before and immediately after Vida's dismissal, they ultimately overwhelmed their short-handed visitors.
Bayern's only defeat under Heynckes was at Borussia Monchengladbach in the league, and in the Bundesliga they have won their last two games 4-0 and 6-0. They have kept clean sheets in their last four matches.
With star striker Lewandowski one booking from a ban, it is thought he'll be left out of this one, with Sandro Wagner likely to get the nod in attack. Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben may also be rested, and a decision will be made about whether Joshua Kimmich (also one caution from a suspension) will make way for Rafinha at right-back.
Humbled Besiktas will be keen to make a statement
Besiktas have been very strong at home this season, and seeing as this is their European farewell, they'll want to go out in style. Bayern have a very strong squad, but they'll rest a few here, and I can't help feeling that 1.68/13 is a bit short for the German champions to win this. Opta tell us that in the knockout stage, Bayern have won just one of their last ten away games in this competition.
Goal-fest may not occur if hosts don't score early
Bayern will expect an early storm, and if they can weather it, this game could become a pretty tame affair. The Bavarian giants have kept clean sheets in their last four matches, while Besiktas haven't conceded more than one goal in any of their Champions League home games this term.
I fancy it to stay Under 3.5 Goals at 1.758/11.