Oh boy, here we go again.
The UEFA Champions League quarterfinal draw went down today, and football fans around the world should be licking their collective chops at some of the matchups that were determined. And while a heavyweight showdown between big spenders Paris Saint-Germain and the perenial powerhouse that is Barcelona might look very good on paper, the battle between Bayern Munich and Juventus will no doubt steal the spotlight.
Let me start by saying that the Bavarians should be favourites going into this tie, courtesy of an impressive run in the German Bundesliga and a team that is capable of outplaying Juve's best 11 on any given night. The quality of Bayern's roster is incredible, and the team plays up to its quality almost every game.
But if there's one team the German champions wanted to avoid, it's Juventus.
In the coming weeks you'll be hearing all about Bayern's quality, their impressive string of results, their dominance on the pitch and the fact that they've finally matured into the dominant force they're supposed to be.
The same banter we heard prior to Germany's semifinal showdown with Italy during last year's European championships.
Yes, that game. The one where Germany dominated possession and mustered a handful of good chances against an obviously inferior opponent, and still lost.
The Italians did what they do best: they executed their assignments, defended like only they can and made the most of the few chances they were able to create.
They frustrated the German team by shutting down the centre of the pitch and allowing the Germans possession close to the box, trusting their experienced back line to deal with the dozens of crosses the Germans fired into the box and star goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon to be ready for any long-range attempt.
This is a pattern that has repeated itself time and time again; Germany has never beaten Italy in a major international tournament. Ever.
At the club level, the same pattern continues. German teams simply don't match up well with what the Italians do on the pitch.
Last year's Italian team was made up mostly from players that ply their trade for Juventus, including the entire defensive front: Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini.
Statistics will tell you Bayern have the best defensive unit in all of world football, but if you use the eye test (sorry Dave) Juve will no doubt come out on top (with the Bavarians a close second).
While the Italian NT consists mostly of Bianconeri, the Rekordmeister is the biggest supplier for the German NT. Players like Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm will no doubt remember their exit from last year's Euros at the hands of the Azzurri and the way in which it all went down.
Juventus might not have a striker that can match up with Mario Balotelli, but they still have no problem scoring. They haven't conceded a goal in the UCL since their group stage draw with FC Nordsjaelland and easily disposed of Shakhtar Donetsk, Chelsea and Celtic Glasgow to get to the quarterfinal stage.
With Andrea Pirlo pulling the strings and enforcers Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio at his side, their midfield can match up with anybody. But the scary thing is that they don't have to. Juventus will happily give up possession for the majority of the game, knowing they are fully capable of stopping you from scoring and putting one or two goals away on the counter.
Antonio Conte has built an effective machine in which every cog is perfectly aware of its responsibilities. The 3-5-2 formation works beautifully against the 4-3-2-1 that most teams use nowadays and leaves wingers Stephan Lichtsteiner and Kwadwo Asamoah free to use their impressive athleticism to devastating effects.
And to cap it all of, there's one Gianluigi Buffon minding the net.
Does all of this mean that Bayern are doomed? Of course not. They have a world class keeper of their own, one of the finest back lines in all of football, a midfield that is equally as impressive as Juve's and arguably the most lethal front line left in the competition.
The Bavarians are capable of beating anyone, and they will be strong favourites going into this tie. Just like team Germany was last year.
This tie has "spectacle" written all over it. Let's hope it delivers.
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