Bayern Munich v Lyon, Champions League semi-final first leg, April 21, 2010
Lyon, the first French team to ever reach the semi-finals of the Champions League, head to Germany (by bus) to face a Bayern Munich team in incredible form hoping to keep the tie alive until the second leg.
To quote Sir Alex Ferguson, Bayern Munich have approached this semi-final in â€œTypical Germanâ€ style. Coach Louis van Gaal has questioned why Lyon have been allowed to postpone their game with Monaco, due to be played next Saturday, until the middle of May, giving them a huge advantage for the match at Stade Garland.
OL have a free six days between the first and second leg whilst Bayern will travel to Borussia Monchengladbach for a crucial Bundesliga match on Saturday. Despite this advantage, described by van Gaal as â€œno longer fair play,” Claude Puel and his side have their work cut out with the Bavarian giants hitting form at just the right time.
Bayern Munich are a far cry from the side that struggled at the start of the season and have begun to motor in the Bundesliga and in Europe. April has been an incredible month; they progressed past Manchester United in the last round, beat nearest title rivals Schalke away from home and also kept their momentum going with a draw at another domestic challenger in Bayer Leverkusen.
On Saturday Bayern smashed seven past Hannover in one of the most comprehensive victories you are ever likely to see. They are now two points clear at the top of the Bundesliga and with three games to play the title looks like returning to the Allianz Arena.
The main catalyst behind their fine form of late has been Arjen Robben (6.00 to score first, 2.25 to score). The Dutch winger has scored five goals in his last three games, including a hat-trick against Hannover and the winner against Manchester United in the last round. This followed the fine strike late on at Fiorentina that saw Bayern progress past the Italian side in first knockout round.
Robbenâ€™s form has put Franck Ribery (2.60 to score) in the shade and could yet see the French winger remain at Bayern in the summer. Ribery was interviewed last week over the prostitution scandal that has rocked the French national team but alongside the former Chelsea winger, is key to the outcome of this tie.
Lyon, much like Barcelona heading to Inter Milan, have been forced to travel to Munich by bus due to the the volcanic ash cloud spreading across Europe. Coach Claude Puel admitted that â€œseven hours on a bus is not easy. For a long time I havenâ€™t travelled like that, not since I was small.â€
The French side have also been involved in a number of tough fixtures in recent weeks and look set to miss out on the Ligue 1 championship with Marseille emerging through a forest of teams at the top of the table. Lyon drew 2-2 at Bordeaux on Saturday and they have only won once in four games in April.
Lisandro Lopez is a major doubt for this match after he picked up an injury due to a bad tackle from Henrique in the match at Bordeaux. If he does not make it, Bafetimbi Gomis (3.25 to score) will likely start as the lone striker. Whilst an away goal would be massive, the likes of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and central defender and captain Cris will be crucial to stem the tide of the home team.
There should be no shortage of desire, commitment and work rate from both sides. Bayern will look to Phillipp Lahm, Ivica Olic (6.50 to score first, 2.50 to score) and Thomas Muller (3.50 to score) to support Ribery and Robben whilst Lyon also have some players who can be dangerous on their day including Michel Bastos (3.00 to score), Aly Cissokho and Miralem Pjanic (5.00 to score).
Bayern though start as clear favourites. The momentum has been steadily building all season culminating in their impressive progression past Manchester United in the last round. The stage seems set for Arjen Robben to return to the Bernabeu for the Champions League final in May.
101gg predicts: Bayern Munich 2 â€“ Lyon 0 (6.38)