Nov 4, 2013, 4:48 PM EST
In the coming days, you probably won’t hear much about this match on PST. With 16 UEFA Champions League games spread over two days, there are more compelling stories than Bayern Munich’s visit to Viktoria Plzen. When the continent’s best team makes a trip to one of the tournament’s weakest sides, you can excuse us not trying to fabricate drama (he says, fully away Bayern lost in Belarus last year).
Note: Nobody’s calling the match meaningless. How can they when the German champions are on the verge of tying a European record? If Pep Guardiola’s team beats the Czech champions on Tuesday, they equal Barcelona’s mark for longest Champions League winning streak. Heavy favorites to claim a victory that could put them into the knockout round (with help from Manchester City), Bayern will run their winning streak to nine should they take care of business in Plzen.
The current record is held by Barcelona, but not the version you assume. Back in 2002-03, the Blaugrana won nine in a row, sweeping through group stage (six wins) before winning their first three matches in second group stage. A 0-0 draw at Internazionale on Feb. 26 not only ended their run but also augured trouble against Italian opponents. Barça would go out of the competition in the quarterfinals, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Juventus.
In that way, Bayern’s potential record is would be more impressive than Barcelona’s, the Germans having accumulated half their wins in the competition’s knockout round. Bayern won four-in-a-row to close last year’s tournament, defeating Milan, Juventus (twice), Barcelona (twice), and Borussia Dortmund en route to their fifth European Cup.
“Records are special,” Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said. “While the chance is here, we want to break as many as possible.”
Schweinsteiger teammate Mario Götze, also available at Monday’s press conference, said the team’s focus is on the competition, not the record.
“We want to qualify for the last 16 as quickly as possible,” the Bayern midfielder explained. “It’ll be easier to approach the remaining games knowing we’ve qualified, and we have plenty of matches in the next few weeks”.
Making the last 16 isn’t going to be a problem. Although Guardiola was quick to note Plzen won 6-1 in league this weekend, Bayern destroyed the Czech champions 5-0 two weeks ago – the underlying gap between the teams one of the larger you can imagine in modern Champions League. Plzen should be better at home, but unless Bayern’s complicit in an upset, they’re going to tie the record.
And with a little help in Manchester, they could also secure a place in the tournament’s last 16. Both Götze and history can be happy.
Jan 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
Betting on five underdogs away from home in the FA Cup will win you serious cash.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:32 PM EST
Fagundez explains why he couldn’t wait any longer to select his national team.
Jan 26, 2015, 12:00 PM EST
If Wolfsburg can agree a fee for Schurrle, should he leave Stamford Bridge?
Jan 26, 2015, 11:26 AM EST
Carver will take charge for the final 16 games of the season… but what then?
Jan 26, 2015, 9:55 AM EST
Red Bulls attacker heading to Abu Dhabi?
Jan 26, 2015, 9:20 AM EST
The signing of two Venezuelan youngsters could put Real in plenty of trouble with FIFA, as Barcelona-esque transfer ban could be on the cards.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:34 AM EST
The Koreans will face either Australia or the UAE in Saturday’s final in Sydney.
Jan 26, 2015, 8:00 AM EST
All the latest gossip, right here.
Jan 25, 2015, 11:33 PM EST
“I am concerned, not because of Chelsea but because we didn’t score in our last two home games,” Pellegrini said.
Jan 25, 2015, 10:50 PM EST
The 33-year-old Cameroonian striker joins a Sampdoria side currently tied for third in the table with 34 points.
Jan 25, 2015, 10:13 PM EST
“If he’s not ready for Tuesday then he’ll be back, for sure, against West Ham next weekend,” Rodgers said.
Jan 25, 2015, 9:22 PM EST
Maloney turned 32 on Saturday and will be unveiled by Chicago on Monday.
Jan 25, 2015, 8:31 PM EST
Sepp Blatter: Kind of like “The Godfather”. But let’s be clear, we’re talking “The Godfather: Part III”.
Jan 25, 2015, 7:40 PM EST
What else is cooking? Glad you asked.
Jan 25, 2015, 6:30 PM EST
There’s a new top-four team in Spain, while little has changed in Italy, both for good and bad.
Jan 25, 2015, 4:28 PM EST
Two of eight quarterfinals places were clinched on Sunday as the late drama continues at AFCON 2015.
Jan 25, 2015, 2:59 PM EST
A work permit still must be obtained, but Arsenal is on the cusp of securing some defensive depth.
Jan 25, 2015, 2:07 PM EST
With 10 goals in his last six games, all of that is coming to a screeching halt.
Jan 25, 2015, 12:54 PM EST
After yesterday’s FA Cup craziness, things were restored to normal today as all three Premier League sides went through, despite some nervy moments.
Jan 25, 2015, 11:43 AM EST
Standard Liege fans responded to their former player – now with their arch rivals – in a very mean way. Defour reacted accordingly.
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