NOT much has thwarted the predatory instincts of Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski this season but even that dynamic duo will have their work cut out to pierce the rock-solid Juventus defence on Tuesday (9.45pm).
Muller and Lewandowski have scored a remarkable 56 goals between them in all competitions this season but in Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 round they will be up against a Juve rearguard which has kept nine successive clean sheets.
It is one of many reasons why the tie at the Juventus Stadium is likely to be a titanic duel between the champions and leaders of Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga, even though Juve would lose top spot if Napoli beat AC Milan last night.
Both are unbeaten in all competitions since early December and both have exactly the same record in their last 10 matches – nine wins and one draw.
Bayern’s last reverse, one of only two all season for Pep Guardiola’s outfit, was against Borussia Monchengladbach on December 5 while Juventus have not been beaten since they lost 1-0 at Sevilla in the Champions League on December 8.
There will also be a return to savour for Bayern midfielder Arturo Vidal, back at the club he helped to four Serie A titles in a row, while Juve striker Mario Mandzukic is also in line to face his former team-mates.
“We know that Bayern are one of the three best teams in the world, but we’re playing at home and Juventus Stadium will give us a real boost,” said Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli.
“Every team has its weaknesses and it’s our job to find them.”
Vidal has already promised he will not celebrate if he scores and told Gazzetta dello Sport that he was relishing the prospect of facing Paul Pogba in midfield.
The teams last met in the quarter-finals of the same competition three seasons ago, when Bayern won both legs 2-0. Since that second leg, Juventus have played 16 European home games without defeat.
Overall, Juventus and Bayern have met eight times with only two wins for Juventus – the last in 2005.
Former Bayern forward Miroslav Klose summed up the difficulties facing the Bavarians.
“I know from my own experience that it’s very, very hard to score against Juve,” said Klose who now plays in Serie A with Lazio.
“They’re very compact and their defence is very organised even when they lose possession but they also have great quality in the centre and up front.
“You don’t want to go a goal down against them, that just makes it even harder.”
He added: “Bayern might make it difficult for Juve in their own half with aggressive pressing. They have to disrupt their build-up play and be quick on the break. This is Juve’s weakness if you can call it one after so many wins.”