Champions League

Wounded Bayern still favourites

2015-04-14 13:25
Pep Guardiola (AFP)

Porto - Even without a handful of players, Bayern Munich will be favored when it faces FC Porto on Wednesday in the Champions League quarterfinals.

The German powerhouse travels to Portugal as a five-time tournament champion and a finalist in two of the last three seasons.

Porto has won the trophy twice and is unbeaten in the competition this season, but is into the quarterfinal stage for only the first time since 2004 — when it won the title under then-coach Jose Mourinho.

Bayern will have to do without winger Franck Ribery and midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger as it pursues its fourth straight semifinal appearance. Ribery is nursing an ankle injury and Schweinsteiger is out with the flu.

Bayern, which is unbeaten in Portugal, was already missing Arjen Robben, David Alaba, Mehdi Benatia and Javi Martinez.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the match in Porto "won't be easy, but we don't have a problem with being the favorite and I think we can reach the semifinals."

While Bayern has a comfortable 10-point lead in the German championship, Porto is fighting to make up lost ground in domestic competition where it lies second, three points behind Benfica.

Porto coach Julen Lopetegui, in his first Champions League campaign, said he envies Bayern coach Pep Guardiola for having the luxury of resting some players last weekend.

"Bayern changed a lot of players because it is 10 points ahead. We did what we had to do and we'll try to recover as best we can," Lopetegui said.

The Spaniard is also worrying about the fitness of forwards Jackson Martinez, the Portuguese league's top scorer, Adrian Lopez and Cristian Tello.

For Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, the Stadium of the Dragon brings back the best of memories.

Neuer was 21 and still playing for Schalke when his team beat Porto on penalties to reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League in 2008.

Neuer was then at the beginning of his career, recognized as a talent but not yet a star.

He produced a string of spectacular saves during the match and his performance culminated in him stopping two shots in the penalty shootout to put his team through.

Neuer was rested in Bayern's 3-0 win over Frankfurt in the Bundesliga on Saturday because of a small knee problem but will be back in in goal in Porto.

Porto will be dreaming of a repeat of the 1987 Champions League final, when it beat Bayern with a 2-1 comeback win that was sealed by Madjer's backheel.

Porto is unbeaten in the Champions League this season.

Read more on:    bayern munich  |  porto  |  champions league  |  soccer

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