Confident Bayern expect to advance despite Juve fightback
By Karolos Grohmann
REUTERS - Bayern Munich remain confident of advancing to the Champions League quarter-finals despite blowing a two-goal lead in a thrilling 2-2 draw at Juventus in the first leg of their Round of 16 encounter on Tuesday.
The 2013 champions were well worth the 2-0 lead they had opened up after a dominant hour in Turin before the Italians hit back with two goals in the final 27 minutes to restore parity ahead of the return leg in Munich on March 16.
"We should not make the mistake and wrangle too much with this result even if we were leading by two goals during the game," Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told a post-match dinner early on Wednesday.
"This is a very, very good result which keeps the door to the quarter-final wide open," he said after Bayern failed to make it three straight wins against Juve in Turin.
Juve, last season's beaten finalists, have lost just twice in their past 46 home games in Europe, both times against the Bavarians, who again looked likely winners for much of the match.
Despite a makeshift backline due to a string of injuries to central defenders, coach Pep Guardiola's team took charge from the start, terrorising the Italians with constant attacks down the flanks.
Wide men Douglas Costa and Arjen Robben outmanoeuvred their markers time and again as the Germans missed a hatful of opportunities to further drive home their superiority in a commanding first hour.
They were left frustrated in the end, however, knowing they had passed up on a victory that would almost certainly have been enough to secure a place in the last eight.
"We are going back with a queasy feeling because we thought we would leave here with a win," said keeper Manuel Neuer, who needed to be at his vigilant best to preserve a draw as Juventus pushed for an unlikely winner late in the game.
"We were playing well but suddenly it became hectic and the atmosphere in the stadium became more intense."
Bayern are expected to be stronger in the second leg with winger Franck Ribery and central defender Medhi Benatia gaining valuable playing time as late substitutes as both marked their return from injury.
"I am confident that we can do it, that we can qualify. The coaching team and the players can pull it through in three weeks time," Rummenigge said.
(Editing by John O'Brien)