Two of Europe’s hottest sides go head-to-head in what is probably the pick of the Last 16 clashes. After reaching the final last season Juve saw a number of key players depart, including Arturo Vidal to Bayern, and their slow start to this campaign was perhaps understandable. That slump went on for rather longer than expected and looked to have blown their title hopes for this season, however, a run of 14 consecutive wins, and 15 in a row in the league, catapulted them back to the top of Serie A before goalless draw at the weekend. So confidence should be sky high as they look to go one better than their runners-up finish in last season’s Champions League.
Bayern will also expect to improve on last season, as they lost in the semi-finals for a second year in a row, and they are in dominating domestic form having won 19 of 22 Bundesliga matches this season. However, there are problems in the Munich camp with healthy defenders looking thin on the ground. It’s been five years since they last failed to reach at least the semi-finals but they don’t have the greatest of records in the UCL when travelling to the best teams under Pep Guardiola. Away to teams we have ranked in the top 20 in Europe Guardiola’s Bayern have gone W3-D2-L5, including four defeats in the last five such matches. Furthermore, Guardiola’s record in the opening leg of knockout matches at Bayern is also poor, going W1-D2-L3 while scoring only four times.
Since 2012/13 Juventus have lost only one of five European home matches against teams ranked in the top five in Europe while winning twice and, in fact, they’ve lost just two of their last 47 home matches in Europe against all teams back to the start of the 2004/05 season. That those two defeats both came against Bayern might be of some concern to the Old Lady but it’s nevertheless an impressive record.
Our rankings place Juventus 5th and Bayern 2nd in Europe with 11 grading points between them. In Champions League knockout matches since 1990 where there was a grade difference of 5-15 points in favour of the away side the home team has gone W40-D38-L33, with the ratio of draws increasing to 41% from the 74 first leg ties within that sample. This suggests that there will be little to split the teams and we’d have to agree with that, as we’d make Juve our slight preference over Bayern but with the draw the standout selection in the match outcome markets.
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