In a season, or two, Juventus would like to be where Bayern Munich are at the moment. A team that’s been running for a few years, and simply getting better with time, without relying too much on a single player. Sure, some, like Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Muller and Franck Ribery might be a little bit more important than the rest, but unlike the Spanish giants heading into the semifinal, the feeling around Bayern is that of a cohesive unit, peaking at the perfect time.
Just listening to the compliment Juventus head coach Antonio Conte throwing at a team that just beat him 2-0, twice in 7 days, was enough to tell you how good Bayern are up close and personal. That home defeat to Arsenal was a glitch, a complacency mistake that won’t return again. Losses some time serve to humble players, and it certainly showed in the second leg, as Bayern looked like the better, more dangerous side for most of the match, not allowing Juventus chances aside from a few set pieces.
It begins with a defense that when it has Dante in the center of it looks confident as any other unit in Europe. While Bayern have been allowing goals a little more freely in past week, at least in the Bundesliga, they’ve got the best defensive record among the top league’s in the continent, and their ability to press so much and so high up for very long stretches begins from there, plus the addition of Javi Martinez.
Martinez’ arrival was never so praised and clearly beneficial than in the 3-1 win over Arsenal; that was the proof people who don’t follow the Bundesliga, or simply don’t believe it’s such a strong league, needed to see, to witness. Martinez obliterated the Arsenal midfield, freeing Bastian Schweinsteiger to focus on attacking missions only. It was the same in Turin, even with Arjen Robben there to disrupt the team harmony.
The financial structure and health of the Bundesliga, something the footballing world should aspire to, allows Bayern to add the right, expensive pieces, each season, until the perfect puzzle is completed. Juventus aren’t there yet, but breaking away from the usual traditions of Italian football might get them there eventually. For now, Bayern Munich are a little out of their league; some say, they’re a little out of the league for the rest of the competition that’s left as well.