Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Benfica v Bayern Munich - Preview

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Pep Guardiola before Benfica match - Getty Images
Bayern Munich have been warned they cannot afford to relax as they prepare to to defend a 1-0 lead in the Champions League against Benfica in Portugal.

Victory in Munich last week has put the Bavarians ahead in the tie but they must successfully navigate a further 90 or 120 minutes if they want to advance to a fifth consecutive semi-final and the 2013 European champions are well aware they cannot celebrate yet.

“It was a good result but it was not a cushion we can relax on,” Bayern’s director of sport Matthias Sammer said at a press conference in Munich. “We still expect a very difficult challenge. There’s definitely a lot of pressure, also for us.”

Bayern had looked set to cruise into the last four when Arturo Vidal’s second-minute strike put them ahead at the Allianz Arena last week.

However, Benfica showed their battling qualities to restrict Pep Guardiola’s side to just that one goal and, buoyed by the achievement of their compatriots Porto in beating Bayern 3-1 in Portugal last season, will be confident of pulling off a shock by reaching the semi-finals for the first time since 1990.

“They have one of the best defences in Europe,” the Bayern defender Javi Martínez said of Benfica. “They defend very high up the field and are very aggressive and tight, which makes it hard to pass the ball through. But we will try to win the game because that is the Bayern mentality.”

A draw would do for Guardiola’s men, while Benfica will be forced to come out of their defensive shell to attack them, which could play into the German club’s hands.

“If we get a goal, then there’s a big chance that we will go through,” their captain Philipp Lahm said. “I have no doubt about it.”

Benfica’s hopes could be dented by the absence of two of their attacking talents. Jonas, who has scored 18 goals in 18 appearances this season, will definitely miss out through suspension, and Nico Gaitán is rated doubtful after missing training on Tuesday because of a muscular problem.

Rui Vitória
We have to play well defensively as we're facing one of the best teams in the world, one of the favourites to win the competition and a side who set up the same home and away. Nicolas Gaitán is a doubt and only before the match will I know if I can count on him. We didn't win there, but tactically we did well and were very organised. However, we know Bayern are tactically very versatile with lots of resources at their disposal, so if they don't achieve what they want playing one way they'll try something else. We had 5,000 fans in Munich and tomorrow the supporters will be even more important.

Josep Guardiola
We are focused on tomorrow's match. We intend to defend well, score a goal and qualify for the next round. Regarding Benfica's absentees, we have had the same problem ourselves. For example, Javi Martínez was out for five months and we had to play without genuine central defenders during that time, so that's football. The teams know each other well as they just played last week, but tactically we know what to do. A player's mentality and character will be clear to see in front of 60,000 fans. We have to play well in order to get a result.


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