THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE quarter-finals conclude on Wednesday evening. Here Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) picks out his favourite fancy from Bayern Munich's match with Sevilla.
Bayern Munich v Sevilla | Wednesday 11th April 2018, 19:45 | BT Sport
Bayern Munich had the luxury of resting eight first-team players for Saturday’s trip to Augsburg as the Bavarians secured a sixth successive Bundesliga title – a remarkable achievement for a club that were in crisis as recently as October, when Dortmund enjoyed a five-point advantage at the top of the table.
The return of veteran boss Jupp Heynckes has been the catalyst for a sensational turnaround. The 72 year-old has guided the Munich men to W27-D2-L2 across all competitions with Bayern racking up a +67 goal difference in those 31 fixtures, scoring 87 and shipping just 20 goals.
Now talk around town is about repeating the famous treble that Heynckes masterminded in 2013 and the Bavarians can take one step closer to Champions League glory on Wednesday night by comfortably dispatching Sevilla at the Allianz Arena.
With a world-class squad and no obvious weaknesses, Bayern are serious contenders for the crown in Kiev, and are unlikely to show their Spanish visitors any mercy. Only last month a dangerous Besiktas team were dispatched with consummate ease despite the German giants holding a first leg advantage.
Since April 2014 Bayern have been beaten just once at the Allianz Arena on continental duty (W19-D1-L1) with 14 of their triumphs achieved by a two-goal margin or more. The Bavarians scored at least three goals on 14 occasions and have also W7-D1-L1 in knockout ties during the same sample.
Heynckes’ charges have scored five or more goals in five of their past eight on home soil across all competitions and should be well capable of overcoming a -1.75 Asian Handicap hurdle at 13/17 (Unibet) on Wednesday evening.
Sevilla to come unstuck
Sevilla deserve plenty of credit for putting together a pair performances full of character and endeavour when welcoming two of the planet’s biggest clubs last week. The Andalusians took the lead against both Barcelona and Bayern Munich at their Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan base, only to run out of gas after the interval.
Vincenzo Montella’s men have switched between awesome and awful in an inconsistent campaign that’s seen the La Liga side slide to seventh (below their city rivals Real Betis) and a whopping 18 points adrift of Champions League qualification next term.
For large swathes of their 2-2 draw with Barcelona, Sevilla were dominant and entertaining. For much of the first-half against Bayern, Los Rojiblancos were in control and putting the German giants under pressure. However, the Andalusians profligate finishing and worrisome backline failed to stand strong.
Unfortunately for Sevilla, defeat and the concession of two away goals to Bayern has all but ended their quarter-final tie. Only one side this century has qualified from a Champions League knockout tie after losing the first-leg at home by a one-goal margin, so history is already against the La Liga outfit.
Spaniards struggle at elite clubs
Sure, Montella’s troops turned the tables on Manchester United at Old Trafford but repeating the feat at the Allianz Arena is a totally different kettle of fish, especially for a club that traditionally struggles when travelling to Europe’s elite.
Sevilla have lost their last 13 trips to either Barcelona or Real Madrid, conceding an average of 3.30 goals per-game. This season, the Andalusians have returned W0-D0-L4 at the top-four, and even if we include their home results, it’s a paltry W0-D1-L6.
More recently, this team have lost over half of their past 21 outings in league or continental competition. Montella made a number of alterations to his starting XI at the weekend but that contest saw Los Rojiblancos leak four goals or more for the seventh time since October.
Playing Jesus Navas at right-back has created plenty of problems and I just can’t see any reason why Bayern Munich won’t take full advantage here.
Bayern Munich v Sevilla – Bayern Munich -1.75 Asian Handicap (13/17 Unibet)