German champions play host to Benfica in the Champions League quarter-final first leg tie on Tuesday eager to extend their perfect run against Portuguese opposition to ten straight triumphs.
Improvement needed for Bavarians
Uncharacteristically enough, Bayern Munich have recovered from a difficult spell of late with back-to-back 1-0 Bundesliga wins over FC Koln and Eintracht Frankfurt. Guardiola’s men have thus bounced back to form from an exhausting tie with Juventus earlier in the previous round which was solved after extra time. Locked on the course to retain the Bundesliga crown, Bavarians will need to improve their performances in the UEFA Champions League if they are to move one step closer to the final. Tradition against Portuguese opposition is working in their favour though, as Bayern Munich are looking for their tenth consecutive win over Portuguese sides. Pep Guardiola’s men thrashed Porto 6-1 at the Allianz Arena at the same stage of the competition last season, while their previous three home games against Benfica ended in one 5-1 win and two 4-1 triumphs. Bavarians have won four of their six meeting with the Eagles, drawing the remaining two.
Bayern Munich continue to have problems in defence with Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber ruled out and Mehdi Benatia and Javi Martinez both doubtful for the clash.
Benfica are enjoying a fantastic spell at the moment. The Eagles are on an eight-match winning run in all competitions and it is fair to say that they are heading to Munich in high spirits. What is more, the Portuguese side have won 19 of their last 20 matches across competitions and the 1-2 loss to Porto was the only one since early December 2015. Buoyed by their incredible form, Benfica will be eager to fight against the odds as they prepare to make the trip to Germany in their effort to record a positive result that will put them one step closer to reaching the semi-finals of the Europe’s elite competition for the first time since 1990. Rui Vitoria is enjoying his life at Benfica after a slow start to his spell with the Eagles which saw his team lose three times to Sporting, Arouca and Porto at the beginning of the season. However, the Eagles have recovered and are flying high in the sky at the moment. Benfica are coming off from a morale-boosting 5-1 trouncing of Sporting Braga on Friday night, which helped them move five points clear of rivals Sporting, who play their league game on Monday night. Vitoria’s men reached the semi-final thanks to a 3-1 aggregate win over Zenit.
Rui Vitoria will have no major selection worries ahead of the trip to Allianz Arena. Julio Cesar is the only one unavailable as his tear in the abductor muscle is likely to keep him on the sidelines for about ten more days.
Bayern Munich have a perfect record against the Portuguese sides and they are likely to continue the trend in the first leg at home despite Benfica’s incredible form. Benfica will put a fight, but Guardiola’s men are determined to seal a win in front of their own fans.
Top pick: HT/FT Home win 1.69 (9/13) @Unibet
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 2.55 (31/20) @Coral
Alternative pick 2: Over 2.5 goals 1.6 (3/5) @BetVictor