Form's no handicap for Bayern
Ian Ogg previews Wednesday evening's games in the UEFA Champions League and is keen to side with Bayern Munich.
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Lies, damn lies and statistics.
Bayern Munich are in their worse run of form for three years.
Bayern Munich have failed to beat the last two Premier League sides (Manchester City and Arsenal) that they have entertained at home and have won just one of the last five.
Manchester United have proved significantly better on the road this season (with their wins including a 5-0 defeat of Bayer Leverkusen), have won four of their last six by an aggregate of 13-1 and Wayne Rooney has provided the most assists in the Champions League campaign.
However, the two games not included in the tally above are the first leg and the humbling 3-0 defeat by Manchester City and the bookmakers clearly don't believe that there's any chance of the Mancunians knocking out the holders who are around the 2/7 mark to win in 90 minutes.
It's hard to argue with that assessment with this match 'our focus in recent weeks' according to Guardiola.
Bayern Munich have already wrapped up the Bundesliga and were able to make wholesale changes to the side (as did United against Newcastle) that lost against Augsburg at the weekend.
Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez will miss the match through suspension and Guardiola has claimed that he only has '14 players to pick from' with the squad having been hit by injuries but most of the key players are available for the hosts who are undefeated in nine of their last 10 games against United - the defeat, of course, did come in quite a big game.
The likes of Robben, Ribery and Lahm, along with Gotze and Mandzukic, could cause havoc in a brittle defence in which Evra, Ferdinand and Vidic have only shown glimpses of the form they were capable of in their prime.
The old warriors may have one final battle in them but it's just as easy to see this campaign, which has provided some welcome respite from their travails in the league, ending with a whimper.
United are likely to sit deep with the back four vulnerable to the pace of Bayern and look to frustrate the hosts while hitting them on the break. That, of course, invites pressure unless you can retain possession and this United side don't look good enough to achieve that over a sustained period of time.
It may take Bayern a while to get the breakthrough but once, if, they do United will have to take some risks and, accordingly, are likely to become stretched at the back which should be manna for Bayern's wide men.
In light of that, the correct score markets merit some consideration at 2-0 and 3-0 but the United attack did cause some problems at Old Trafford so I'll look to the Asian Handicaps instead and side with the Germans at -2 which is 5/4 with Paddy Power.
While few will give United a chance of winning in Germany, the second leg of the all Spanish tie is harder to call with all four of this season's games between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona having been drawn with just four goals scored.
The stalemate may, therefore, interest some at 5/2 as will the under 2.5 goals at around the 4/5 mark while another short price to note is the 6/5 for Lionel Messi in the anytime goalscorer market; the little magician has eight in six Champions League games this season and is on a remarkable run that has seen him score in 12 of his last 14 matches.
A potentially tight match is further complicated by injuries to both sides with a hamstring strain picked up in the first leg potentially ruling out 33 goal striker Diego Costa for the home team while the Catalan giants, who haven't lost against Wednesday's opponents in 10 games, will be without Victor Valdes and Gerard Pique.
Atletico, the surprise leaders of La Liga, will be hoping that the Vicente Calderón crowd can make the difference as they look to score the first goal, as they have in the two matches that didn't finish goalless this season (they are 13/10 to do so again), and that, not surprisingly, could prove crucial to the outcome of the game.
To come back to the opening line, the stats do point to a low scoring draw and, in this case, they may not prove to be too misleading. I wouldn't put anyone off the aforementioned markets but Ladbrokes have priced up some match results and under 2.5 goals prices and their 31/10 about the draw looks worth taking.