Bayern Munich takes slim lead to Benfica for return leg
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 12, 2016 07:00 PM
Team Bayern gathers during a training session prior to the Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and Benfica Lisbon in Munich, Germany, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Munich will face Benfica in Lisbon on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
BARRY HATTON, Associated Press
LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Bayern Munich has a seven-point lead in the Bundesliga and is on course for an unprecedented fourth straight title. Benfica, after finding form in the final third of the season, is two points clear at the top of the Primeira Liga and closing in on its third consecutive crown.
The two on-form clubs meet Wednesday in Lisbon in the return leg of their Champions League quarterfinal game, with Bayern 1-0 up from the first leg in Germany.
There's a big difference in pedigree: favorite Bayern is aiming to reach its fifth consecutive semifinal and also hopes to repeat its feat of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles. The Portuguese club, meanwhile, is hoping to reach the tournament's last four for the first time in 26 years.
Some things to know about the game at the Stadium of Light in the Portuguese capital:
Bayern is hoping top-scorers Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller rediscover their scoring form. Neither of the pair — with a combined 64 goals across Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup — has scored the past three games.
It's a first this season for Bundesliga top-scorer (25 goals) Lewandowski, who has eight goals in nine Champions League games.
"Robert always wants to score a goal," Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, a former striker, said. "I've see many strikers at Bayern. You always have one, two or three games in which you don't score. The important thing is not to give up, always to keep going."
Thomas Mueller (28 goals across all competitions) isn't worried. "We don't base our game on what the discussion is. If we keep winning 1-0 it shows a certain coolness and cleverness," Mueller said. "Of course you have to try and be more efficient. We're definitely let a couple of chances go lately."
Benfica will feel the absence of some key players against Bayern.
Top striker Jonas is suspended after getting a yellow card in the first leg. The Brazilian forward is joint top scorer in European leagues with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain with 30 goals.
On top of that, Argentine playmaker Nicolas Gaitan limped off the pitch during last weekend's Portuguese league game and is in doubt after missing training this week.
Argentine central defender Lisandro Lopez has a lower back injury and his usual partner Luisao has a broken arm.
In attack, Mexican striker Raul Jimenez, who netted the winner in Benfica's 2-1 comeback win at Academica on Saturday, is likely to start alongside Konstantinos Mitroglou.
Bayern's captain Philipp Lahm can equal a club record if he plays in Lisbon. It will be his 103rd Champions League match, pulling him level with former goalkeeper and captain Oliver Kahn.
Lahm was unaware he is about to equal the record. "It's not that big a deal but nice to know. It does show that I've been playing at a high level for a long time," Lahm told Kicker magazine in an interview published Monday.
Speaking about the match, Lahm said: "If we score a goal, then we have a good chance of advancing."
Bayern's former president Uli Hoeness will be part of Bayern's delegation for the first time since coming out prison. Hoeness served 21 months in prison for a tax-evasion conviction. He was released in late February.
"I find it great for Bayern," club director Matthias Sammer said. "Uli Hoeness is part of Bayern but his presence in Lisbon is not a guarantee of victory."
Ciaran Fahey in Berlin and Nesha Starcevic in Frankfurt contributed to this report.