Bayern Munich – The Quarter Finals

Mario GomezOne of the salient features of Bayern`s return path to the Champions` League Final has been the significant improvement in the team`s performance in each subsequent round.

After a flawless demolition of Arsenal in the first leg of the Last 16 they meted out similar disdain with a perfect home and away display against Juventus, registering identical scores in Munich and Turin.

The general consensus after the first leg victory in Munich was the game was as close to a 2-0 thrashing as you are ever likely to get. The fact that a two goal margin hardly did justice to Bayern`s superiority was almost incidental but to concede a goal after 27 seconds, and a deflected shot to boot, meant an uphill struggle for the Italian side.

It was David Alaba, optimistically letting fly from fully 35 yards who got the ball rolling for Bayern with a little unknowing assistance from Vidal to help deflect it past Buffon.

The introduction of Robben for Tony Kroos after just 13 minutes was certainly unlucky for the Turin giants who found the errant Dutchman`s forays down the flank an effective deterrent to their forward momentum on that side. Robben even forced a fine save from Buffon after a great set up from Lahm.

Robben then made a hash of an even better chance and Juventus were outwardly delighted to go in at the interval just one goal adrift but soon after the restart Bayern served notice that they were going for the jugular and only another excellent Buffon save prevented Mandzukic from doubling the home lead.

That signalled a change in the match dynamic as Bayern sought to maintain the pressure while Juventus looked happy to settle for a 1-0 reverse. But it was the pressure that prevailed just past the hour when Gustavo`s long range effort bounced disturbingly in front of Buffon who could only parry into the path of Mandzukic. He cut the ball back for a simple Muller tap in. Antonio Conte responded with a couple of substitutions and one of them, Mirko Vukinic set up Lichsteiner who forced Neuer into his first save of the evening but far from looking like conceding Munich looked more likely to add to their advantage though a 2-0 result was regarded as a job half done ahead of the trip top Turin.

As if Bayern needed any more of a boost ahead of the 2nd Leg, winning the German League before flying out to Italy was a bonus.

Juventus got off to as flying start but Vucinic`s weak effort failed to trouble Neuer.

But the stopper had to work harder when Pirlo`s 20 yard drive had to be turned away.

The first goal of the night and the one which effectively killed the tie came just past the hour and there was an element of irony about it.

Mandzukic had picked up a harsh booking for a challenge that was no more than 50-50 that rattled the shin of Chiellini meaning he would miss the semi-final first leg but he made amends in the 63rd minute when he turned home the rebound after Buffon had saved from Martinez.

Although play continued to swing from end to end it was all over for Juventus even before Pizzaro swept home Bayern`s second of the night, in stoppage time, to clinch a 4-0 aggregate victory.

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