Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid
Wednesday 21 October, 20:00
Live on BT Sport Extra
Bayern’s firepower is hiding their sins
Having excelled for his village side TSV Pahl, and having scored over a hundred goals in just one season, a ten-year-old called Thomas Müller made the 50-kilometre journey to Bayern Munich. Twenty years later, he is still with the German giants, and is playing as well as ever. On Saturday, Müller and Robert Lewandowski both bagged braces in a 4-1 win at Arminia Bielefeld, with the Polish international setting up Müller’s second. Their near-telepathic link continues to be one of the central planks upon which Bayern’s formidable attack is based. They have helped Bayern win the UEFA Super Cup and DFL Supercup already this term, and in all competitions the European champions have scored 25 goals in seven matches.
It was noted in the latter stages of Bayern’s Champions League triumph last season that they take a lot of risks. A high defensive line is combined with a furiously intense pressing game, but there are opportunities for opponents if Hansi Flick’s men aren’t quite at their best. They conceded two goals against Dortmund, three against Hertha Berlin and four against Hoffenheim. Their only clean sheets of the campaign have come against a hopeless Schalke team and lower-league Düren in the DFB Cup.
Such issues haven’t yet made a serious dent in Bayern’s progress. They have won two trophies and are just a point off top spot in the Bundesliga. However, Flick knows that a crowded fixture list and a demanding style of play could take its toll if he doesn’t rotate his squad effectively.
Leroy Sane is back in training after a knee injury, but Bayern don’t want to take any risks, so involvement against Atletico would be a surprise. Alphonso Davies might once again be deployed in the front four, with World Cup winner and former Atletico star Lucas Hernandez playing well at left-back.
Atleti solid yet unspectacular so far
Atletico’s 2-0 victory at Celta Vigo at the weekend was a microcosm of their season. Luis Suarez buzzed around dangerously in attack, scoring the opening goal early on at Balaidos, but Atleti didn’t dominate after that, surviving a couple of big scares before sealing the victory with a last-gasp goal from Yannick Carrasco. According to the Infogol Expected Goals figures, Celta actually won the xG battle 2.33 vs 1.6, and while such statistics aren’t the be-all and end-all, they do show that Atleti weren’t at their best.
However, it’s worth noting that Diego Simeone’s side has conceded just one goal in four games, and has kept three straight clean sheets. Jan Oblak looks as sharp as ever, a man with a genuine claim to be the best goalkeeper on the planet.
There are, however, questions to be asked further forward. Who is the best partner for Suarez? Is it the combative Diego Costa, or the more fragile but incredibly gifted Joao Felix? Simeone insists all three can play together, but that would require compromises that the coach may not want to make. There is also concern over whether the loss of Thomas Partey’s all-round skillset can truly be mitigated.
Uruguayan centre-back Jose Gimenez hasn’t featured at all so far because of injury, while Sime Vrsaljko is also on the sidelines. Diego Costa picked up an injury against Celta and will miss out, so it will be interesting to see whether Joao Felix or Marcos Llorente are selected to support Suarez in attack.
Bayern are worthy favourites
For all their creaks and strains in defence, Bayern still look as devastating as ever in attack. Müller, Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry are all in dangerous form, and the midfield pairing of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka is working effectively. Although Bayern do take risks with the way they play, I can’t see Simeone doing too much to try to take advantage of that. I expect Atleti to stay compact and try to stay in the game, but I believe Bayern will wear them down in the end.
Bayern have won their last 11 home games in all competitions, and in the Champions League they have put together a sequence of 11 straight wins. I believe they will win, but we need to find a way to make the standalone odds of 4/71.56 for the win a bit more attractive.
Therefore, I’ll combine a Bayern win with backing Lewandowski to score at 1/12.02 on the Sportsbook’s Same Game Multi. He scored 55 goals in all competitions last term, finishing as top scorer in the Bundesliga, the DFB Cup and the Champions League. He scored all four goals in Bayern’s last home game against Hertha Berlin, and for club and country he has netted nine goals in his last four games.
Atleti approach make unders attractive
Bayern score lots of goals and have looked a bit fragile at the back, but just how adventurous will Atletico be? Three of the Spanish club’s four matches so far have featured fewer than three goals, and six of their last eight UCL games have seen an Under 2.5 Goals bet land.