Berlin: Bayern Munich are eager to avoid suffering another Champions League slip-up to Portuguese opposition in the Champions League quarter-finals when they host Benfica tonight in the first-leg.
Pep Guardiola’s Bavarians were humbled 3-1 away to Porto at the same stage of the competition last season in the first leg before roaring back with a 6-1 victory in Munich to reach the semi-finals with a 9-2 aggregate win.
After Bayern beat last season’s finalists Juventus 6-4 on aggregate in the last 16, the German media seem to think their passage into the semi-finals is a foregone conclusion before they even face Portuguese league leaders Benfica over two legs.
But the Bavarians insist on taking nothing for granted.
“The game is dangerous. We have to remind ourselves about what we experienced in Porto last year,” said Bayern’s forward Mario Goezte.
Germany’s World Cup winner hopes to face Benfica after his powerful run led to Franck Ribery’s spectacular winning goal in Saturday’s 1-0 league win over Eintracht Frankfurt in a lacklustre performance from the Bavarians, who remain top of the Bundesliga.
Striker Robert Lewandowski admitted they were already thinking of the Benfica game while playing Frankfurt.
Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has warned Bayern need to produce more than Ribery’s stunning bicycle kick against Benfica: “That won’t be enough on Tuesday”.
The Bavarians know they can ill afford a repeat offkey display as they hunt a fifth straight appearance in the Champions League semi-finals.
History is on the Bavarians’ side.
Bayern have won all three previous meetings with Benfica in European competition on their way to winning the 1975/76 European Cup, reaching the 1981/82 European Cup final and lifting the Uefa Cup in 1995/96.
Nevertheless Rui Vitoria will bring his Benfica side to the Allianz Arena knowing it will be “very difficult, but we are up for a challenge”.
“Sometimes the only way to neutralise tougher opponents is to recognise their strengths, be aware that it will be a hard match, and understand that to achieve anything you have to go through difficulties,” Vitoria told UEFA.com.
“We go into this game knowing our opponents are candidates to win the Champions League, but we won’t be backing down.”
Benfica have won 19 of their last 20 games in all competitions, the exception being their 2-1 home defeat to Porto in February.
Brazil striker Jonas has scored 18 goals in 16 appearances in all competitions in 2016 to keep his side top of the Portuguese league.
Bayern have lost at home just once this season when Mainz took their chances and hit Guardiola’s side on the counterattack at the Allianz Arena to seal a 2-1 league win in Germany’s top flight nearly five weeks ago.
Guardiola will be without Netherlands captain Arjen Robben, who has a groin injury, but France winger Kingsley Coman should be fit after missing their win over Frankfurt with a leg knock.