To describe Bayern Munich as being confident going into the most evenly matched of the Champions League quarter finals would be understating it just a touch. Bayern's 9-2 win against Hamburg on Saturday afternoon put them within a match of the Bundesliga title: that simple sentence shows just how dominant they have been domestically this season. They blow teams apart, they win things. And their eyes are now set on the biggest prize, the one that eluded them so heartbreakingly last season.
There's been a feeling for some time that Bayern are somehow destined to win this season's Champions League. That consensus is reflected in their price, and they're just a little short for me in the Winner market at [6.4]. As someone who watches and talks about a lot of Italian football, I may be guilty of bias, but Juventus are a far more attractive proposition in that market at a scarcely believable [15.0].
Bayern are strong favourites for this first leg at [1.66], and I can understand that price. Their home record is phenomenal, and they've won 16 of the last 19 Champions League games played at the Allianz Arena. They have been beaten, though, and you can't say that about Juventus this season in this competition. It's tempting to look at the Bundesliga table, see Bayern's statistics, and simply presume that they'll cruise into the semi finals. Those who watch Juve regularly will beg to differ. Because, in terms of this game, you can only judge Bayern on their Champions League performances. A thrashing of Hamburg is great fun, but means nothing on Tuesday night, and a Juve team which was itself galvanised by a victory at Inter on Saturday will go to Munich confident that they can build an argument to take back to Turin for the return leg.
Juve have won their last five Champions League games without conceding a goal, and they've let in only four in the course of this season's competition. Domestically, they haven't reached the heights of last season because they haven't had to, and their focus has always been here. This team of winners is used to being described as underdogs and equally used to overcoming those odds.
Bayern's line up may look the more stellar, but Juve's sum is far greater than their apparent parts. I'm amazed that Juve are as big as [2.66] to qualify, and will be backing them at an insulting price.
That doesn't necessarily mean that Bayern are a lay at [1.66] to win this game. I think that Juventus will score (only once in 15 Champions League attempts have they failed to against a German team) and yet Bayern are worthy of respect. A 2-1 defeat, for example, would be far from insurmountable in Turin. I'm interested by the fact that Bayern profit so much in wide areas, and that Juve are themselves blessed with two of the best full backs in Europe in Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah. Antonio Conte could be conservative and play Federico Peluso on the left, but I still feel that Juve can nullify Bayern's wide threat, and don't think they'll be at all intimidated by them. Bayern of course have goals in them from pretty much every position, and the fact that ten different players have found the net for them in the Champions League so far is testament to that.
Over 2.5 Goals is priced at an attractive looking [2.06] and that's tempting, but I'm more interested in the Both Teams to Score market.
Juve will be desperate for an away goal, and the absence of Sebastian Giovinco is possibly a blessing, giving the more powerful Alessandro Matri the chance to play alongside a presumably recovered Mirko Vucinic. You can back BTTS at [1.98] on Betfair, and if you're feeling more adventurous, you could take a look at 1-1 in the Correct Score market at [8.2]. I'm interested by the appointment of Mark Clattenburg as referee in Munich, as it would just like him to award a penalty for a shirt pull at a set piece and be seen as the man who clamped down on that in this season's competition.
That seems a bit too much like lazy logic, though, and so I'll steer clear of a bet in the Penalty Taken market.
It should be a classic over both legs, and on the basis that I see as a 50/50 tie, Juve at [2.66] to qualify has to be the main bet. Because it will be good, but this is one game that won't finish 9-2.