Bayern Munich host Atlético Madrid on Tuesday night in what is the biggest match of the year for both teams. Bayern will be buoyed by the ferocious support of Allianz Arena in its attempt to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg last Wednesday. We spoke to Ryan Cowper of our sister blog Bavarian Football Works (follow him @cowperryan) in anticipation of what should be a fantastic game.
Will Thomas Müller start?
Your guess is as good as mine. Pep Guardiola has a plethora of attacking riches available for this match. Franck Ribery is healthy and ready to contribute and with Kingsley Coman and Douglas Costa still themselves, it comes down to matchups and how Guardiola wants to attack the Atlético Madrid midfield. Does he rely on the patient possession of Xabi Alonso and Thiago Alcântara or does he attempt to ram the game down the throat with a full-throttle Arturo Vidal?
The latter scenario makes the most of the talents of a guy like Thomas Müller who can open those little channels for Vidal to work in. And considering the former was what Bayern tried so unsuccessfully to do in the first leg, maybe it's time to give the more chaotic approach a try.
Atlético made seven changes against Rayo Vallecano at the weekend in preparation for this match. How much did Bayern rotate this past weekend and are there any fitness concerns ahead of Tuesday?
Pep Guardiola went the same route as Simeone over the weekend. Rotating in five alternates including an entirely different midfield composed of Mario Götze, Joshua Kimmich, and Sebastian Rode, it was full shift change there and along the back line with Medhi Benatia and Serdar Tasci anchoring either side of Jerome Boateng.
Of those who played, there should be no fitness concerns, but Jerome Boateng might be limited to just a late emergency shift.
If there's one thing we know about Pep Guardiola it's that he doesn't change his approach, just his players. This is likely doing to be the same game plan of all out possession; the only difference will be the nuances. Will he rely on wing play and the skills of Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman? Or will he use the magic of Thomas Mueller or Mario Goetze in the middle to open lanes for through balls?
As for breaking down Atlético's defense, I would be absolutely astounded if Atlético walked away with a clean sheet. But I have next to zero faith Bayern are going to keep one of their own given the potency of Antoine Griezmann. Who scores first is going to be the deciding factor in how those two facts make this game play out.