The magnificent Allianz Arena is the stage for tomorrow’s first leg Champions League semi final tie between 4 time winners Bayern Munich and Olympique Lyon. This will be Bayern’s 13th appearance at this stage of the competition and the Germans will be looking to crown it with a win.
It does not take a genius to know that Bayern are the favourites to win the match. After beating Manchester United in the quarters, Louis Van Gaal’s boys automatically became candidates for the May 22nd showdown between either Inter Milan or Barcelona.
Lyon have never reached the final of this tournament let alone the semis. The closest they ever got to achieving this was back in the 1963-64 season when they reached the quarters of the Europa League then known as the Cup Winners’ Cup. However, the French club should not be judged on past performances.
Lyon deserve to be in the semis and with players like Lisandro Lopez and Sidney Govou, the Frenchmen can never be written off. Injuries will however be Claude Puel’s undoing. Lyon will be without a host of first team players with Boumsong, Makoun,Cissokho, Kallstrom and Bodmer all out through injuries.
Meanwhile, Bayern Munich should have a fairly strong squad with Klose, Van Bommel and Badstuber being the only notably absentees. Louis van Gaal’s side can count on Bayern’s pedigree to get them through. Bayern have played in 12 semis winning, 7 and losing 5. They last won this tournament in 2001 and surprisingly, that was when their apparent rivalry with Lyon was born.
Both these teams have met 6 times over the last 7 years with Bayern Munich having the upper hand. Louis Van Gaal will most probably use a 4-2-4 formation that will include: Butt, Lahm, Van Buyten, Demichelis, Contento, Robben, Schweinsteiger, Tymoschuk, Ribery, Muller and Olic.
Lyon will counter that with a 4-5-1 formation that includes: Lloris, Reveillere, Cris, Toulalan, Pjanic, Anderson, Gomis, Delgado, Bastos, Lopez and Govou. With key players out through injury or suspension Lyon definitely have an up hill task in the Bavarian city.
Lyon are down to third in the league after suffering a series of draws that has seen Auxerre leap frog them into 2nd spot. With 5 games left to play, things do not look to good for Claude Puel’s team. Marseille has opened up a 9 point lead over Lyon and Bordeaux’s game in hand means that Lyon can find themselves down to 4th place and fighting for a Champions League spot.
Bayern Munich on the other hand do not face such problems. Fresh from a 7-0 home demolition of Hannover 96 over the weekend, the Bavarian club are now up to first place in the Bundesliga with a healthy 2 point margin over their nearest challengers Schalke 04 with 7 games left to play.
Dutch play maker, Arjen Robben scored a hat-trick while Olic and Muller each grabbed a brace. This match has definitely set the pace for tomorrow’s fixture which will be an interesting affair.
My prediction for this match is a 2-1 win in favour of Bayern Munich. However, that away goal might be all that Lyon needs to change the face of this tie when they meet in a weeks time for the return leg.
Photo credit: from rikiriki2008