Bayern Munich take a 2-1 lead in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie with Sevilla on Wednesday night at the Allianz Arena.
The five-time winners are the favourites to make it through to the last-four, but with the two favourites from the two ties finished on Tuesday night going out, nothing is certain, and Sevilla are determined to pull of their own piece of history.
Heynckes expects risks from Sevilla but Montella wants balance
A goal halfway through the second half from Thiago gave Bayern the edge in the first leg last Tuesday, completing a turnaround, started by a Jesús Navas own goal, after Pablo Sarabia had given the Spanish side the lead.
The two away goals mean Sevilla will have to score at least two at the Allianz Arena, an incredibly difficult task given that only Paris Saint-Germain have scored at all against Bayern in the Champions League there this season. For the record, VfL Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have scored twice there in the Bundesliga, but none managed to win.
Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes believes that Sevilla will “have to take risks, look to attack and take the initiative,” given their disadvantage. He also said that his side will “react accordingly” and “play like we’ve always done at home.” His counterpart Vicenzo Montella is looking for his team to stay in the game “for the whole 90 minutes.” He emphasised the need for “balance” before adding he didn’t think a victory was impossible.
“We know it will be very difficult,” he said, “but we are full of confidence and belief that we can play our best to give ourselves a chance.” He was also keen the underline that he was not bothered by people dismissing his side’s chances. “People have to respect Sevilla,” he said. After AS Roma’s heroics on Tuesday night, he might be feeling more confident still.
Bayern have been knocked out of the Champions League in each of the last four years by Spanish sides – Real Madrid twice, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid. However on 24 occasions they have won a first leg away, and on all but one of those they have always progressed. Sevilla can though point to five fixtures in nine previous visits to Germany – none though were against the mighty Bavarians.
Concentration and hard work needed for both teams
Since the first leg, Bayern have wrapped up the Bundesliga title with a 4-1 win at FC Augsburg, a game they also fell behind in, due to a Niklas Süle own goal, but were leading by half-time before restoring normal order in the second half.
After their celebrations on Saturday, they insist they are now focused on Wednesday’s match. “We can have a really, really good season this year,” said Sandro Wagner, “but there’s still a lot left to do in the coming weeks.” Meanwhile teammate Sven Ulreich added that the side have to “maintain concentration.”
Bayern had made seven changes for that game, whilst Sevilla made five for their game against Celta de Vigo, played on Saturday afternoon. They were hammered 4-0 in the mid-table clash.
"We had chances to score but once we conceded, we started to play individually and not as a team,” reflected Montella on that match. He knows they can’t afford the same mistakes against Bayern. “We have to work in attack,” he explained. “We will have to work a lot, and have a bit of luck.”
Vidal, Alaba and Kjaer all ruled out
Apart from the long-term absentees of Manuel Neuer and Kingsley Coman, Bayern will also have to do without Arturo Vidal, who hasn’t recovered from the recurrence of the knee injured that forced him off last week, whilst David Alaba is unlikely to make the game either. “I think it’s better when he has a few days’ training under his belt,” confirmed Heynckes, “so Saturday is more likely.”
Heynckes was keeping his cards to his chest in his press conference, however it is likely their starting line-up will be similar to the team that started the second half in the first leg, when James Rodríguez had replaced Vidal and Rafinha came on for the disappointing Juan Bernat.
However Arjen Robben will be itching for a start after a commanding performance in Augsburg, whilst Heynckes could take the safe option with players on a yellow card. Jérôme Boateng, Joshua Kimmich and Franck Ribéry are amongst the six players in danger of missing the first leg of a potential semi-final, although should they avoid a booking the records are cleared for the last-four. Sevilla also have four players on a yellow.
The Spaniards will have Éver Banega available again after suspension and he is expected to play, despite Montella teasing he might look elsewhere. He said that he “is a very important player for us,” before adding “we played very well in the first leg without him, which shows we have other options.”
Gaby Mercado and Joaquin Correa are available again after minor injuries, however defender Simone Kjaer picked up a muscular injury against Celta Vigo and has been ruled out. Daniel Carriço made it through 90 minutes in that game and is favourite to partner Clément Lenglet at the back. Guido Pizarro seems the most likely candidate to make way for Banega, whilst Luis Muriel is tipped to replace Wissam Ben Yedder, who is goalless since his double against Manchester United in the previous round.
Bayern Munich: (4-1-4-1) Ulreich; Kimmich, Hummels, Boateng, Rafinha; Martínez; Müller, Rodríguez, Thiago, Ribéry; Lewandowski.
Sevilla: (4-2-3-1) Soria; Navas, Lenglet, Carriço Escudero; N’Zonzi, Bangea; Sarabia, Vázquez, Correa; Muriel.
Quotes via Bayern Munich, UEFA and ESPN.