Bayern wary of a slip-up against 'dangerous' Benfica

 05 Apr 2016 - 0:00

Bayern wary of a slip-up against 'dangerous' Benfica
Coach Pep Guardiola of German Bundesliga soccer team FC Bayern Munich speaks at a final press conference at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, 04 April 2016.  EPA/SVEN HOPPE

Berlin: Bayern Munich are eager to avoid suffering another Champions League slip-up to Portuguese opposition in the quarter-finals when they host Benfica on Tuesday in the first leg.

Pep Guardiola's Bavarians were humbled 3-1 away to Porto at the same stage of the competition last season in the first leg before roaring back with a 6-1 victory in Munich for a 9-2 aggregate win.

Since Bayern beat last season's finalists Juventus 6-4 on aggregate in the last 16, the German media seem to think their passage into the semi-finals is a foregone conclusion.

But the Bavarians insist on taking nothing for granted before facing the Portuguese league leaders over two legs. 

"The game is dangerous. We have to remind ourselves about what we experienced in Porto last year," said Bayern's forward Mario Goezte.

Germany's World Cup winner hopes to start after his powerful run led to Franck Ribery's spectacular winning goal in Saturday's lacklustre 1-0 league win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has warned the German league leaders need to produce more than Ribery's stunning bicycle kick against Benfica: "That won't be enough on Tuesday". 

Benfica have a potent attack and their defence have leaked just 19 goals in 28 league games this season.

Brazil striker Jonas has scored 30 league goals and, alongside Greek forward Konstantinos Mitroglou, the pair have netted 53 goals in all competitions.

The Bavarians know they can ill afford another off-key display as they hunt a fifth straight appearance in the Champions League semi-finals.

"We're going to play a good team. Their back four is perhaps the best in Europe, they haven't conceded many goals and it is going to be an interesting game," said Guardiola.

"I don't feel like we're favourites. I have an idea for our lineup, but I need to sleep on it."

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer hopes Jonas and Mitroglou's thirst for goals play into Bayern's hands.

"I assume that they will want to get at least an away goal, but that could mean they will defend high up. That could give us room," said Neuer.

History favours Bayern

History is on the Bavarians' side.

Bayern have won all three previous meetings with Benfica in European competition on their way to winning the 1976 European Cup, reaching the 1982 European Cup final and lifting the UEFA Cup in 1996.

Nevertheless Rui Vitoria will bring his Benfica side to the Allianz Arena knowing it will be "very difficult, but we are up for a challenge".

"Sometimes the only way to neutralise tougher opponents is to recognise their strengths, be aware that it will be a hard match, and understand that to achieve anything you have to go through difficulties," Vitoria told UEFA.com.

"We go into this game knowing our opponents are candidates to win the Champions League, but we won't be backing down."

Benfica have won 19 of their last 20 games in all competitions, the exception being their 2-1 home defeat to Porto in February.

Bayern have lost at home just once this season, when Mainz took their chances and hit Guardiola's side on the counterattack to seal a 2-1 Bundesliga win nearly five weeks ago.

Guardiola will be without Netherlands captain Arjen Robben, who has a groin injury, but France winger Kingsley Coman should be fit after missing the Frankfurt game with a leg knock.

AFP