Bayern Munich travel to Lisbon for the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie with a slim advantage from the first leg. The Bundesliga's top team are confident of advancing to the semis.
The German powerhouse appeared set to roll over Benfica when the two sides faced each other in the first leg in Munich last week, withArturo Vidal putting Bayern up 1-0 just two minutes into the contest. After taking the lead, Bayern adopted a rather conservative approach in an effort to prevent their Portuguese opponents from scoring an important away goal. They succeeded but failed to add to their own goal total.
Although they would have liked a greater advantage heading in to the second leg of their quarterfinal at Lisbon's Stadium of Light on Wednesday, Bayern's staff and players are confident about their chances of advancing to the semifinals for a fifth year running. At the same time, many inside the club have warned against complacency.
1-0 first-leg win 'a good result'
Speaking to reporters at Bayern's head office on Monday, sporting director Matthias Sammer described last week's 1-0 victory at home as "a good result."
"If you look elsewhere in the world or particularly in Europe, you'll find top teams that aren't getting results, like Real Madrid in Wolfsburg or Barcelona in the Spanish league. But we have gotten the results," he said. However, he also noted that "a tough challenge awaits us" in Lisbon.
Sammer also warned of the danger of players being overawed by the atmosphere in the stadium, but captain Philipp Lahm played down that risk.
"We're all very, very experienced in terms of atmosphere. We've turned in great performances in the Champions League, so the players aren't nervous when there's a good atmosphere," said Lahm in comments posted on Bayern's official website.
Bayern are coming off a 3-1 win over Stuttgart on the weekend. but Lahm said there was still plenty of room for improvement.
'Lack of precision'
"We've had problems in our game recently," he told the sports magazine "Kicker. "We have lacked precision when we've had the ball, we've made too many bad passes and made bad decisions. We need to fix this as quickly as possible."
At the same time, though, he stressed that Bayern remained strong in defense and said he had no doubt that they would advance.
There was some good news for coach Pep Guardiola on the injury front, as both Kingsley Coman and Mehdi Benatia took part in the team training sessions on Monday and Tuesday. However, Benatia has not made the trip to Lisbon. Jerome Boateng, Arjen Robben and Holger Badstuber are all still recovering from their injuries.
Top striker banned
Guardiola's opposite number, Rui Vitoria, will have to improvise when naming his team, as Brazilian striker Jonas, who has scored 30 goals in just 29 appearances in the Portuguese top flight this season, will be unavailable due to an accumulation of yellow cards. First choice goalkeeper Julio Cesar is also out.
Despite this, Vitoria expressed confidence that Benfica would manage to advance from the tie.
"We're not going to sit here and cry over something we cannot control," he said. "This is just an opportunity for someone else and whoever plays will certainly do a great job. We are going to put out a competitive team to face them on equal terms, hand for hand, centimeter by centimeter."
Still, the general consensus is that Bayern are the favorites, as Guardiola looks to win the treble of Bundesliga, Champions League and German Cup before departing for Manchester in the summer.
History on Bayern's side
For what it is worth, history also appears to be on Bayern's side, as the Bavarians have won all of their previous three knock-out ties against Benfica. These came in the European Cup in the 1975-76 and 1981-82 seasons, as well as in the 1995-96 UEFA Cup. Further still, Bayern have a positive record in away games against Wednesday's opponents, having recorded two scoreless draws and one win in against the 34-time Portugues champions in Lisbon.