Shakhtar kept Bayern Munich quiet in Ukraine and should resist for at least 45 minutes at the Allianz…
Bayern Munich v Shakhtar
Live on Sky Sports 1
Midfield injuries remain an issue for Bayern Munich, with Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara and Philipp Lahm all still out and Xabi Alonso suspended on account of his two yellow cards in the first leg.
However, it is a problem in the loosest sense of the word given that it hasn’t prevented them from delivering four emphatic domestic victories since the first leg by an aggregate margin of 15-2.
Wily veteran (is there any other type?) Mircea Lucescu should be able to call on all 14 players that he utilised when the sides met in Lviv. Beyond that, Brazilian World Cup attendee Bernard is sidelined, while Ukrainian defenders Ivan Ordets and Serhiy Kryvtsov are both doubts.
In terms of results, they should be helped by the fact that their domestic campaign is finally up and running following its winter break. Having gone over two months without a competitive game before the first leg, they have participated in three since, winning twice and drawing away to Metalist.
Match Odds: Bayern Munich 1.192/11, Shakhtar 22.021/1, The Draw 8.615/2
Shakhtar will have mixed feelings about the first leg – a combination of pride at shutting out one of the fiercest attacks on the planet, with Lucescu noting that they restricted them to one shot on goal, and slight frustration at not capitalising on facing ten men for the final 25 minutes. Still, they got themselves in a position whereby a score draw at the Allianz Arena will see them through.
Bayern Munich’s numbers are intimidating: 15 home wins from 16 this season, with the likes of Man City, Roma, Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund swatted aside and the sole setback a 1-1 draw against Schalke in which they played 73 minutes with a man disadvantage.
However, there is a glimmer of a weakness that Shakhtar can draw hope from: Bayern’s tendency to perform worse in the second leg of a double header.
In five of their last seven two-legged Champions League knockout ties, their result in match two was weaker than in match two. The scorelines were identical in one of the others and they only improved in the return fixture once – against Man United in last term’s quarter-finals.
The most glaring examples of them suffering in a second leg were losing 2-0 at home to Arsenal in 2012/13 having beaten them 3-1 away and being thrashed 4-0 by Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena last April from the recoverable position of 1-0 down on aggregate.
Bayern Munich -1
The odds paint Bayern as overwhelming favourites, but they cleared a one-goal handicap in less than half of their last seven home Champions League encounters, being held by Arsenal and defeated by Man City and Real Madrid in 2013/14 and limited to a 1-0 triumph by Man City in September.
Shakhtar meanwhile have been conquered by a margin wider than one goal in just two of their last 22 clashes in the competition and none of the last ten. Even when they have lost abroad to the likes of Chelsea and Man United, it has been by one goal.
Bayern Munich are odds-on to be ahead at the interval too. Their visitors haven’t been behind on 45 minutes in any of their past ten Champions League games though. More significantly, they haven’t conceded a single first-half goal in that period, which adds up to almost eight hours of football.
The hosts were level at half time against Hannover at the weekend and took until the 45th minute to break down second-tier Eintracht Braunschweig at the Allianz last Wednesday. They switched ends with a lead in only two of their last six European contests there.
Best Bet: Lay Bayern Munich (-1) to win @ 1.635/8
Other Recommended Bet: Lay Bayern Munich to lead at half time @ 1.584/7