2021 Champions League Round of 16 Predictions: Lazio vs Bayern Munich
When Lazio and Bayern Munich clash on Tuesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matchup, it will the first-ever meeting between the two sides. Bayern Munich is in the Round of 16 by way of topping Group A with 16 points (W5, D1) and that was seven points better than second-place Atletico Madrid. Lazio snuck into the Round of 16 in second place after finishing with 10 points (W2, D4) and staying ahead of Brugge by two points. Lazio is far and away outsiders in this contest, and they will need to pull a miraculous Leicester City-type miracle to pull off the upset.
Lazio has tasted a bit of European success as they won the 1998-99 UEFA Cup Winners Cup at the expense of Mallorca. The following year, Lazio beat out Manchester United in the UEFA Super Cup which pitted the Champions League winners against the UEFA Cup Winners Cup. However, since then Lazio has been mired in mediocrity with this season be the first campaign that they’ve qualified for the knockout stage of the Champions League.
As for Bayern Munich, when you think about a European power, this is one of the few teams that come to mind instantly. Bayern has won six titles, the most recent coming just last year when they got the best of Paris Saint Germain. Bayern continues to retool but still relies on Robert Lewandowski to do the bulk of the scoring. Bayern is one of the best teams remaining in the tournament and has the squad and experience needed to repeat as champions.
As it currently stands, Bayern Munich is listed as heavy -750 favorites to advance to the quarterfinals. If you believe that Bayern can take the first step to defend their title, you can grab a piece of them at +375 which is second favorite behind only Manchester City. If you believe that Lazio can overcome the German powerhouse, you can grab them at +475 to advance and +15000 to win the entire tournament.
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First Leg: Olimpico, Rome. Tuesday, February 23, at 3:00 pm
Second Leg: Allianz Arena, Munich; Wednesday, March 17 at 4:00 pm
It’s been quite the productive season for Lazio thus far in league play as they currently sit in fifth spot on 43 points which is just 10 points off top spot and ahead of teams like Juventus who are nine-time defending champions and Napoli, who is an ever-present title threat. Lazio have relied on timely goalscoring and a stout defense to get them to where they are and they are going to need that defense to step up in an even bigger way against the juggernaut that is Bayern Munich. Lazio enters this contest in great form, having dropped just two games over their last 10 games and have won seven consecutive home games with four of them coming with a clean sheet.
In terms of the injury report, Lazio come into this game relatively healthy and with a full complement of players to choose from. They’ll be relying on Ciro Immobile for goals and the Italian international has found the back of the net in the opening 30 minutes in three of the four CL games he’s scored in.
Probable Starting XI: Reina; Musacchio Acerbi, Gabarron; Lulic, Alberto, Lucas Leiva, Milinkovic-Savic, Marusic; Correa, Immobile.
Bayern Munich Storylines
The perennial German powerhouse, Bayern Munich finds themselves in a precarious position this late in the season. They are just two points ahead of second-place RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga title race but are still considered by many one of the best teams left in Europe. Bayern Munich come into this game with a sour taste in their mouth as they lost to Eintracht Frankfurt in their latest game by a score of 2-1. They were behind 2-0 after 30 minutes and simply could not pull back to level terms to secure a point. Nonetheless, that loss was just their loss since January 8, a run that spans eight games.
In terms of team news, Bayern is missing a few key players, but they’ve been out of the lineup for a lengthy bit of time already, so it won’t matter. Perhaps the biggest news is the status of Mueller and Gnabry who are questionable, but likely to play in this one.
Probable Starting XI: Neuer; Sule, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Roca, Sane, Chupo-Moting, Coman; Lewandowski.
Lazio vs Bayern Munich Predictions
For me, this matchup is dependent on how Bayern Munich plays. If they play with their full intensity and concentration, they are as unstoppable as any team in Europe. They have experience, they have pace, they have goal-scoring and they have a world-class goalkeeper. This could overwhelm Lazio into submission, but soccer is a funny sport, and it has a way of leveling the playing field via a funny bounce or two. Nonetheless, I wouldn’t recommend playing Lazio to advance at that juicy price tag because I don’t see them keeping Bayern Munich from scoring in the opening leg. Nor would I recommend laying -750 for Bayern to advance. I’d wait this one out and depending on the result of the first leg, I’d look to play the “over” in the return fixture.
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