Valencia vs Bayern Munich: Match preview
Stadium: Estadio de Mestalla
Referee: Howard Webb
Kick-off: 1:15 AM IST, Wednesday, 21st of November
Last time around, Valencia overcame surprise package BATE Borisov 4 – 2 to jump into the top spot for group F in the Champions League. Meanwhile, Bayern humiliated Lille 6 – 1 at the Allianz Arena to catapult themselves into contention for top spot in the group, having scored only 4 in their 3 previous group games. Now, with both teams tied on points, and top spot at stake, each will look to get the better of the other, hopefully with good attacking football.
BATE Borisov face Lille this time out, and have a realistic chance of catching up with either team that loses this encounter, leading to a tricky final round of fixtures. The German giants and the Spanish buccaneers will both be keen to avoid that fate, and will hope to go 3 points clear of both their opponents and BATE, so that a draw in the final game may suffice.
Valencia: W W W D W
Valencia have had a relatively easy run of games lately, with the exception of a win against Atletico Madrid which put the capital club 3 points behind Barcelona in the title race. Thus, in spite of not having lost a game in their last 5 competitive fixtures, Valencia will know that the visit of Bayern will be a real challenge that they need to ride out, in order to keep their momentum going. Discipline has been an issue for Mauricio Pellegrino’s side, with them ending the game with 10 men on two of the previous five occasions. With ten wins in their last ten home matches in all competitions, Valencia are a decent bet to reverse their 2 – 1 loss to Bayern at the Allianz Arena.
Bayern Munich: W W W W D
With 16 goals in their last five games, Bayern are in red hot scoring form, and have conceded just two in the same period. Sitting comfortably atop the league table, Bayern can afford to focus on earning the top spot in their Champions League group, and the weekend draw with Nuremberg saw Heynckes rest several key players ahead of this key trip to Spain. The return of Ribery, Muller, and possibly Pizarro to the starting line up should add sufficient fire power to the German outfit, and one finds it hard to see them losing this match by means of a lack of goals.
Valencia: Pablo Piatti, Jeremy Mathieu, Joao Pereira, Sergio Canales.
Bayern Munich: Jerome Boateng, Arjen Robben, Emre Can, Holger Badstuber, Mario Gomez.
Franck Ribery vs Antonio Barragan
Ribery has been the creator-in-chief for Bayern in their league campaign thus far, with 3 goals supplementing his phenomenal tally of 6 assists. He will be looking to replicate his form in Europe as well to get himself into serious contention for many of the personal honours that have unfortunately evaded a man of his calibre. He will face off against Barragan who has undoubtedly been the weakest link of the Valencia defence, and will have to be at his very best to even have a chance of stopping the dogged Frenchman. He will, no doubt, have received a tip or two from team mate and Frenchman Adil Rami about managing the winger, and will hope they hold him in good stead.
Roberto Soldado vs Manuel Neuer
The Spanish striker is terrifically efficient in front of goal, and is one of a host of players with 4 goals in the Champions League thus far, although his have come from just 9 attempts on target. While Bayern’s mightily impressive defence, which has conceded just 5 goals in the league and an equal number in Europe, may manage to keep him quiet for long periods of the game, the striker is a good bet to make the most of whatever few opportunities fall his way. If and when they do, Manuel Neuer will need to keep his concentration, and will likely have to pull off some exceptional saves to deny Soldado in front of the home fans.
A pacy encounter, with the potential to burst into a goal fest. Both teams have considerable fire power in their armory, and with the need to avoid a nervous game in the final round of fixtures, will be looking to go for a win. While this may lead to a long protracted affair, with neither team wanting to concede the advantage, the chances of an early goal leading to open play from both teams seem much higher. One might be tempted to call the game in favour of Bayern, but the Mestalla has never been an easy place to visit, and might well favour Valencia in what would be a major result for them.