Champions League: Bayern Munich vs Sevilla – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Sevilla have to overturn a 2-1 home defeat at the Allianz Arena if they are to have any chance of progressing to the Champions League semifinal.
19:45 BST, Wednesday 11th April, Allianz Arena (Munich, Germany), BT Sport
Vincenzo Montella’s Sevilla face the unenviable task of having to score at least two goals at the Allianz Arena in Munich if they are to have any chance of progressing in this season’s Champions League competition.
Despite a shaky start to the season which culminated in the deposition of Peter Bosz, Bayern have only conceded two goals at home on a handful of occasions this campaign and on none of these occasions did they go on to lose.
Under Jupp Heynckes, Bayern have been reborn, retaining the Bundesliga trophy for the sixth successive season after beating Augsburg 4-1 this weekend.
The perennial narrative with Bayern stems from a question about whether their league is not competitive enough to give them an edge in the later stages of the Champions League. Even at this point it is hard to judge Bayern’s level. So far they have only faced one of the European elite, winning once and losing once against Paris Saint-Germain.
Elsewhere, games against Anderlecht, Celtic, Besiktas and Sevilla can hardly be indicative of whether Die Roten are at a level that should carry them to the Champions League final for the first time since 2013.
Which is not to say that Sevilla are not a worth opponent: a win against Manchester United in the Round of 16 and a creditable performance at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium testify otherwise.
However, Sevilla are famously shaky at the back, conceding five goals on five occasions this season in a campaign that has found them at seventh in La Liga behind Real Betis and Villarreal.
Bayern, then, are firm favourites but, if Tuesday’s results are anything to go by, being a favourite can count for nothing on the night.
Last Time Out
Augsburg 1-4 Bayern Munich (Bundesliga)
Bayern Munich were crowned Bundesliga champions on Saturday after they came out 4-1 victors in Augsburg.
After Niklas Sule deflected the ball back into the goal after Sergio Cordova stole the ball from Jerome Boateng, it looked as though the afternoon wasn’t going to go as planned. However, by halftime, Bayern were ahead thanks to goals from Corentin Tolisso and James Rodriguez.
From this point onward the result was never in doubt. Goals from Arjen Robben and Sandro Wagner carried Bayern over the line and to the Bundesliga trophy.
Celta Vigo 4-0 Sevilla (La Liga)
Losing in a league match might not be the worst preparation for the Champions League knock-out stages. For example, Roma lost to Fiorentina at the weekend before beating Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday.
However, the nature of Sevilla’s defeat to Celta Vigo will have been a worry for Vincenzo Montella. Going behind shortly before the interval, Sevilla were rolled over in the second half after an Iago Aspas brace in four minutes essentially finished them off.
Aspas completed his hat trick before the game closed out and Sevilla were left with a real understanding of just how daunting their task will be on Wednesday.
Bayern Munich Lineup
Jupp Heynckes is missing Manuel Neuer and Kingsley Coman – both to long-term injury – although Neuer is thought to be back in training after his metatarsal fracture sustained over a year ago.
In addition, David Alaba and Arturo Vidal are on their way back from injury but should miss out, with Alaba back in training this week but Vidal unlikely to train until Thursday.
With both Sebastien Corchia and Simon Kjaer out with injury, Sevilla will fall back on Daniel Carrico and Clement Lenglet in the central defensive area. Beyond this, Vincenzo Montella has no squad issues to worry about.
Key Battle: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) vs Luis Muriel (Sevilla)
Vincenzo Montella has a habit of making odd squad selections at the best of times. Dropping – the admittedly shaky – goalkeeper Sergio Rico for David Soria in the first leg of this tie, the Italian will likely go with Luis Muriel up front ahead of Wissam Ben Yedder.
Of course, it is not the case that such a decision is without its merit: Ben Yedder hasn’t performed in such a way this season to justify his automatic inclusion in the starting XI and was disappointing in the first leg against Bayern.
However, there is a feeling that he offers more of a threat than the Colombian Muriel. If it doesn’t pay off then questions might be raised about Montella’s managerial credentials.
At the other end of the pitch, Robert Lewandowski is part of an entirely different problem: Bayern are perhaps too reliant on him.
After the Pole’s 31 goals this season, only Thomas Muller (who has scored 10) has reached double figures for the club. Bayern’s third highest goalscorer is midfielder Corentin Tolisso.
Against Sevilla this shouldn’t present too much of a threat but, going forward, the Bundesliga champions might want to think about how they can overcome this one-dimensionality.
Will Bayern be complacent?
It is easy to assume that Bayern Munich are going to progress through to the semifinals on the basis of the scoreline of the first leg but, as Roma showed against Barcelona, anything can happen at this stage of the tournament.
Probably the biggest threat to Bayern at this point is the threat of complacency. Having just won the league at the weekend, it would be all too easy for Die Roten to have their mind already on the semifinal fixture.
Sevilla know their task: they must score two goals. If they do so, their task becomes easier – any goal after this puts them ahead on away goals.
It is imperative, then, that Jupp Heynckes’ men do not let the ball slip. There is a job to be done on Wednesday and they cannot lose focus until the final whistle blows.
How do Sevilla approach the game?
In Tuesday’s quarterfinal between Manchester City and Liverpool, the match took the guise of a game of two halves with Liverpool sitting deep until the second half.
The question is whether Sevilla should emulate this approach, soaking up pressure and waiting for their opposition to tire before attacking or, on the other hand, going out strongly in a bid to score a goal and cause alarm bells to go off in the Allianz Arena.
Given that Bayern’s defensive unit is so strong – their goal against Augsburg notwithstanding – it might benefit Montella to go with the former option and hold out for half time.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 4-1 Sevilla
Roma’s Stadio Olimpico antics aside, it’s hard to see Sevilla coming through this one. Even if they are able to score a goal, they are likely to be picked off at the back looking for another.