Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Lazio

Preview: Bayern Munich vs. Lazio

Bayern Munich take on Lazio in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 knockout tie on Wednesday, with the defending champions holding a 4-1 lead from the first leg at Stadio Olimpico.

As such, it would take a monumental effort from the Italians to overturn the deficit at Allianz Arena and subsequently reach the quarter-final of this competition for the first time since 2000.

Bayern have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last six matches, so Lazio may feel confident of troubling the Bavarians in an offensive sense. However, as the first leg showed, it is at the other end of the pitch where the Italians’ problems are likely to lie.

Indeed, Hansi Flick’s side dismantled Werder Bremen during a clinical 3-1 victory away from home on Saturday, with Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski wrapping up a comfortable win within the first two-thirds of the match prior to Niclas Fullkrug’s late consolation strike.

Having hit the woodwork twice in the early exchanges, Lewandowski would have been relieved to get himself on the scoresheet yet again to join Klaus Fischer on 268 career Bundesliga goals. Only the legendary Gerd Muller (365) has scored more in German top-flight history, although another 97 goals may prove a tall order for the Poland striker to reach given that he will turn 33 years of age in August.

Either way, with a four-point cushion opened up ahead of RB Leipzig after Julian Nagelsmann’s side drew with Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday, attention must now return to the Champions League in midweek. Should Bayern take an early lead, they may find their opponents’ heads quickly dropping and another match to cruise their way through.

Indeed, even Lazio’s sporting director Igli Tare admitted that Friday’s Serie A match against bottom-placed Crotone “counts more than the one against Bayern,” with the Italians embroiled in another battle to qualify for the Champions League.

Simone Inzaghi’s side left it late to beat the minnows, who twice pegged the home side back through Simeon Nwankwo’s brace after Sergej Milinkovic-Savic and Luis Alberto had provided Lazio with a 2-1 lead heading into the half-time interval.

Substitute Felipe Caicedo’s 85th-minute winner could prove crucial come the end of the campaign, as it keeps his side six points behind fourth-placed Atalanta with a game in hand. Had Inzaghi’s side dropped two points at home against the worst performing side in the division, there may have been no coming back from that in terms of qualifying for the Champions League once again.

Wednesday’s trip to Munich essentially represents a free hit for them, then, with scoring an early away goal likely to be their main priority. Should they manage to do so, you simply never know in football, especially against a Bayern side which has proved leaky in defence all season long despite their undoubted attacking excellence.

Bayern Munich Champions League form:
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Bayern Munich form (all competitions):
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Lazio Champions League form:
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Lazio form (all competitions):
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