For all of the box office appeal of Real Madrid and Barcelona, in the absence of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, it is as clear as day that the highlight of the Champions League quarter-finals is the tie between Bayern Munich and Juventus.
The runaway leaders of the Bundesliga take on the runaway leaders of Serie A and you can’t help but feel that if a winner is going to come from a source other than the Primera Division giants, then it will be the winner of this two-legged encounter.
These are two fine, fine sides, and having done for Arsenal and Celtic in the last 16, the best that Germany and Italy have to offer has all the makings of the Champions League at its best: you don’t lead divisions by 20 points (Bayern) and nine points (Juve) unless you are the real deal.
Forget the second leg against the Gunners – Bayern started in second gear and didn’t really need to get out of it given their commanding first-leg lead – Munich have been sensational this season.
Whatever way you look at it, their stats are impressive: that 2-0 reverse at home to Arsenal is Jupp Heynckes’ side only loss in any competition since October, a run of 26 games with just one defeat.
A total of 72 goals have been scored in that time and with just three defeats all year – just one domestically – there is no doubt that Bayern are rightly tipped as capable of going one better than last season, when they lost to Chelsea on penalties in the final.
But Juventus have shown themselves to be nearly as good and this is why I can’t quite get my head around the odds for the first leg at the Allianz Arena. I would not argue with Bayern being favourites on their own patch, so I can understand exactly why they are with bwin.
I just don’t understand why the odds are so heavily in their favour. Munich are 3/5, with the draw at 14/5 and Juve at a huge 9/2 to pick up an away win, and it is on the prices alone that I am going to side with the Italians getting a result in Germany.
For some reason, Antonio Conte’s side are being seriously underestimated. It might be because the standard of Serie A is generally viewed as being some way short of what it has been in the past and that, coupled with the Bundesliga being en vogue in England at the moment, may have led to a skewering of the odds.
But for me, these sides are evenly matched and the 5/4 about Juve avoiding defeat has to be taken, especially with winnings of £45 potentially on offer for new customers backing it with their free £20 bet after registering.
This is a side that is not used to losing football matches: Conte’s men went unbeaten as they won the title in 2011/12 and have lost just five matches in all competitions this season as they stride away with another Serie A championship.
Unbeaten in 18 European matches, the Old Lady have won six and drawn two of their Champions League games this season, scoring 17 goals and keeping five clean sheets in succession.
In stereotypically Italian style, Juve have kept 14 clean sheets in their 30 league games and boast a brilliant away record of ten wins and three draws from 15 league matches, with just 11 goals conceded.
Juve have been to Bayern three times since 2004 and secured one win and one draw, and with Bayern’s defence far from secure in Europe this year – they have kept just one clean sheet in their eight ties so far – I don’t see this as the home banker that many others seem to be expecting.
Don’t get me wrong, Bayern are an excellent team and this is not a slight on them at all, and I accept readily that they could easily win on Tuesday.
I just feel that these two sides are far more evenly matched than those prices imply and as such, an odds-against quote of 5/4 for a side as good as Juventus to avoid defeat is too good to pass up.