The German side endured an uninspiring campaign last term after they were dumped out by Liverpool in the Round of 16. Though the Bavarians topped a group which also contained semi-finalists, Ajax, many opined that Niko Kovac hadn’t done justice to the talent at his disposal.
Moreover, Europe’s premier club prize has eluded Bayern since their record-breaking treble season in 2012-13, meaning that the club hierarchy and its fans are growing increasingly impatient at their inability to come up trumps in clutch situations.
During that period, they’ve also had Pep Guardiola take over the reins. Yet, even the Spaniard couldn’t quench the Bavarians’ thirst during his tenure. Thus, coming into the current term, Bayern would hope that they can overcome their recent European hoodoo and go deep into the tournament.
To further their cause, they brought in several fresh faces during the off-season. The French duo of Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez arrived for significant transfer fees whereas Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho were tied up on loan deals.
However, the German outfit hasn’t quite hit their straps in the Bundesliga so far. In the four matches they’ve played, they’ve looked patchy and are already a couple of points adrift of leaders RB Leipzig, following the draw against the latter at the weekend.
Red Star Belgrade, in contrast, have once again ripped apart the Serbian league, despite the season being in its formative stages. The Belgrade-based side has featured in the league on 6 occasions and have won all the games they’ve taken part in, scoring 13 goals and conceding only 4.
Thus, at this juncture, they are just a point off the perch of the standings, in spite of having played a brace of games less. Unfortunately, for the Serbian side though, they haven’t been able to translate their domestic dominance on the continental front, over the years.
Though they enjoyed a shock victory over Liverpool last term, they failed to stitch together a few more positive results, thereby disabling them from making a proper fist of the group stages.
Thus, on paper, Bayern seem to hold a considerable advantage over their Balkan rivals.
Yet, in the cauldron of pressure, that is the Champions League, one just never knows how a particular narrative might pan out.
Date: 18th September, 2019
Time: 09:00pm (Local Time); 12:30am IST on the 19th of September, 2019
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich
Form Guide (Last five competitive matches; Most recent first)
Bayern Munich: D-W-W-D-W
Red Star Belgrade: W-W-D-D-W
Head to Head Record
Total Matches Played: 5 matches
Bayern Munich: 2 wins
Red Star Belgrade: 2 wins
Draw: 1 win
Interesting Stats you need to know
Five members of the Munich squad that won the treble under Jupp Heynckes in 2012-13 will take part in this year’s competition, namely David Alaba, Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng, Manuel Neuer, and Thomas Muller
Bayern are unbeaten in their last 15 home group games in European competition, having won 14 of those encounters. Their last defeat came against Manchester City, back in 2013.
Players to watch out for
Robert Lewandowski has been one of the premier marksman across the globe for the better part of this decade. However, he hasn’t gotten going in the knock-out fixtures of the Champions League in the recent past, meaning that several have branded him as a ‘flat-track bully’, capable of notching mind-boggling numbers against lesser teams and floundering against tougher oppositions.
And, one feels that the Polish striker might want to put those criticisms to bed this season, especially considering that he might not have too many top-notch seasons left in him, at 31 years of age.
Moreover, he has started the 2019-20 season on fire, bagging 7 goals in just 4 Bundesliga appearances. Additionally, he was the top scorer in the group stages last term, where he made the net bulge on 8 occasions.
Thus, despite all the accusations aimed at Lewandowski, one can’t deny the forward’s goal-scoring pedigree. And with a clash at the Allianz Arena beckoning on Wednesday, one just feels that Red Star might bear the brunt of the Polish striker.
Philippe Coutinho has plied his trade at some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Yet, rather surprisingly, he has failed to make the final of the Champions League, let alone win it.
A season after he left Liverpool for Barcelona, the former blitzed the latter on its way to another European triumph. In the process, highlighting that the Brazilian hasn’t enjoyed the rub of the green when it comes to the UCL.
Thus, in the summer, his pursuit of lifting the Champions League dovetailed with that of Bayern Munich, ultimately, paving a way for the midfielder to make the switch to Germany.
Though the Brazilian hasn’t had a lot of time to bed in at the club, he still is one of the most creative footballers the Bavarians boast in their ranks.
And, with a relatively friendly fixture at home lying in wait, Coutinho and Bayern would hope that the midfielder can lay down an early marker in Europe.
Bayern possess an ominous record at home, especially in the group stages of European competition. Additionally, Red Star have been rather notorious for turning in lackluster performances away from home.
Moreover, the German side might be able to unleash its entire repertoire of attacking weapons on Wednesday. Thus, hinting at a particularly long evening for the visiting defenders.
Though the Serbian side has the requisite quality to throw a spanner in the Bavarian works, one just reckons the hosts might have enough in reserve to see them off.
Score: Bayern Munich 3-0 Red Star Belgrade
Bayern Munich win: 1.06
Red Star win: 41.00
Published 16 Sep 2019, 19:24 IST