Wednesday’s Champions League Preview: Bayern Munich Host FC Basel
Louis van Gaal’s Bayern Munich are set to host an FC Basel side that, with a win, could qualify for the round of sixteen. Die Roten booked their place in the next round of Europe’s elite club competition weeks ago, but Louis van Gaal has stressed the importance of winning every game. Bayern Munich have lacked their usual edge and grit this season, but they’ve still made the Allianz Arena a fortress for them this season. Their home form is too good to argue against, so it’ll take nothing less than a massive effort for the Swiss visitors to get a win here.
Thorsten Fink, head coach at FC Basel, is retuning to familiar territory tonight. The German coach played at Bayern Munich for five years, between 1997 and 2003, and even tasted Champions League success with the Bavarian club. Still, he expects no such success with FC Basel and has reminded his players that the pressure is off them – Bayern Munich will need to perform to please their home fans, their manager, and their ever-watching board. If Basel can take advantage of any cracks in the Bayern Munich frame of mind, they may just cause an unbelievable shock tonight.
Alexander Frei will be the main danger-man for Basel tonight, and although he’s aging, he’s still got that extra bit of quality in front of goal that makes him a player Bayern Munich will need to be wary of. Die Roten will be favorites and for good reason, and really should come away with a clean sheet too. Breno and Tymoschuk, if they are chosen to start in the center of defense for Bayern Munich, should hold firm and deny their opponents too many opportunities at goal.
Louis van Gaal has announced that Thomas Kraft will start between the sticks tonight. The young goalkeeper will be given his chance to impress, but it’s also an area that FC Basel will be looking to exploit. Bayern Munich are through to the next round, but the last thing they need now is another disappointing defeat. They’ll need to keep composed and be wary of complacency if they take an early lead.
A win for Basel could mean the round of sixteen as long as Roma lose to Cluj, so everything is still to play for here for the Swiss side.