What: UEFA Champions League – Group F
Who: Valencia vs Bayern Munich
When: Tuesday 20th November, 2012, at 19:45 UK time
Where: Mestalla, Valencia, Spain

Group Supremacy

Level on points and with almost the same record so far in the group, Valencia and Bayern Munich prepare to face each other in what will be the penultimate game of the section. Naturally, the clash will most probably decide who will win the group, allowing for an easier passage in the Round of 16.

Valencia will be lifted going into this game, having recorded recent victories over Atletico Madrid, BATE Borisov and most recently, Espanyol in a match that ended in controversy after they were awarded a highly debatable penalty in the dying minutes. However, facing the current Bundesliga champions will prove to be a tougher test as Los Che hold a horrible record against their opponents, with one win in eight fixtures when playing Die Roten.

Coach Mauricio Pellegrino will be lifted by the news that Fernando Gago is set to return after a spell on the sidelines and the technician will be hopeful that his midfield pairing with Ever Banega in the centre will be fruitful for his side.

“Not the End of the World”

For their part, Bayern Munich’s run endured a nasty setback as they were held at Nurnberg 1-1 on Saturday. Jupp Heynckes’ side still lead the German table by eight points ahead of second-placed Schalke, but they will need to regroup quickly as they prepare for a tough trip to Valencia.

The team’s disappointment against Nurnberg did not come at the most ideal time, however Heynckes played down the result, commenting that: “It is not the end of the world”.

Given Bayern Munich’s assured position at the top of the table, the 1998 Champions League winning-coach can be forgiven for providing reassuring words for his team and fans. However, Valencia are unbeaten in eight home Champions League matches, with their latest setback dating back to September 2010, and they will certainly put up a fight against the travelling side.

Heynckes will be missing Arjen Robben for this one though, while Mario Gomez is a doubt. As such, extra pressure will be on Franck Ribery and Thomas Muller to perform.


Recent form

Valencia 4-2 BATE Borisov (07/11; Champions League)
Real Valladolid 1-1 Valencia (11/11; La Liga)
Valencia 2-1 Espanyol (17/11; La Liga)

Bayern Munich:
Bayern Munich 6-1 Lille (07/11; Champions League)
Bayern Munich 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt (10/11; Bundesliga)
Nurnberg 1-1 Bayern Munich (17/11; Bundesliga)

Key absences

Valencia: Joao Perreira; Pablo Piatti; Jeremy Mathieu; Sergio Canales

Bayern Munich: Mario Gomez (doubt); Arjen Robben; Jerome Boateng

Players to watch

Valencia – Roberto Soldado: After goals against BATE Borisov, Atletico Madrid and Espanyol, the onus will be on Soldado to provide the goods in front of the Mestalla faithful. If there is one man who can make it a happy night for Valencia, it is him.

Bayern Munich – Bastian Schweinsteiger: The German is a hot property at the club and he rarely endures a bad night. Schweinsteiger’s distribution will be the key to Bayern Munich unlocking the opposition’s defence. His set-pieces must be well defended by the Spaniards too.

Match Prediction

Level on points and with one game besides this left for both sides, much is at stake. Valencia have the luxury of being the home side, but Bayern Munich will be well motivated. Expect both teams to play out an entertaining draw. Valencia 2-2 Bayern Munich.

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