German giants Bayern Munich defeated Italian champions Juventus 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie last night.
The victory was a richly deserved one and it has to make Jupp Heynckes team favourites to progress to the semi-finals.
Bayern Munich has been impressive all season, not just last night. They have an entertaining way of playing football that is also devastatingly efficient.
This season they have run away with the Bundesliga title race under veteran head coach Heynckes and look like a major threat in the Champions League as well.
I have been so impressed by Bayern this season that when the Champions League got to the knockout stage I actually put a bet on the Bavarians winning the competition, and I’m not really a big betting man.
The thing that impresses me the most is that the team seems to be perfectly balanced at the moment. Sometimes a balance between being effective and entertaining is hard to strike, not for Bayern it isn’t.
The last two domestic seasons have been a nightmare for Bayern and their fans. The very impressive Dortmund has claimed the last two Bundesliga crowns and to add insult to injury Die Borussen also hammered the side from Bavaria in the German cup final last season.
This season Bayern came back determined to reclaim that Bundesliga crown. Their signal of intent was the players that arrived in the summer. The spine of the team was improved with the big signings of Dante, Javi Martinez and Mario Mandzukic.
All three have played a part in Bayern’s success this season, despite a slow start in Martinez’s case. The trio look like the missing pieces in a very formidable jigsaw.
Bayern are currently 20 points clear of arch-rivals Dortmund in the Bundesliga and although it is still mathematically possible for Dortmund to catch Bayern, it’s very unlikely that they will.
Former-Barcelona head coach Pep Guardiola takes the reins of Bayern Munich in July and in my opinion he has made a very shrewd move. Guardiola will inherit a squad of players capable of challenging both at home and abroad for years to come.
He could even inherit a team that has just won the Champions League, depending on how things go in the next few months. It seemed like a slightly strange decision to me when it was announced, but it sure looks like the right one now.
The coach who Guardiola will replace Jupp Heynckes could leave Bayern on a real high note. I don’t think he could have hoped for a better season than winning the Bundesliga and the Champions League.
It wasn’t all good news for Bayern last night though. Talented young central midfielder Toni Kroos picked up a groin injury which is likely to keep him out of action for the remainder of the season.
The youngster has grown in stature in the past few seasons and is regarded as one of the best young midfielders in Europe. It certainly is a blow to Bayern’s ambitions of winning the Champions League.
It won’t be easy for Bayern Munich to win the Champions League. They still have a tough second leg against Juve in Turin to come. Barcelona has to be considered one of Bayern’s biggest to winning the competition.
Leo Messi and co. drew 2-2 at PSG in the first leg of their tie and as per usual seems favourites for the competition. The likes of Spanish giants Real Madrid and domestic rivals Dortmund also have a realistic chance of claiming the Champions League crown.
In recent years Bayern Munich has earned the tag of nearly men in the Champions League. In 2010 they were defeated by Inter 2-0 in the final and we all remember last year when Chelsea defeated Bayern on penalties in the final after a 1-1 draw.
This could be the year that Bayern finally put that tag to bed. Bayern have a fantastic chance to win the Champions League this season and if they do claim the trophy then they will be deserved winners.
Could this be Bayern Munich’s year for Champions League glory?