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Bayern midfielder Vidal relishing return to Juventus

22 February 2016, 17:01

Milan— Even if he scores, Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal won't be celebrating against Juventus.

The Chile international spent four seasons at Juventus before joining Bayern last year, helping the Bianconeri to four league titles and an Italian Cup. He also reached the Champions League final with Juventus last season.

On Tuesday, Vidal and his new Bayern teammates will face Juventus and his old teammates in the last 16 of the Champions League.

"For me it will be a special match because I have ties to Juve and I am grateful to them," Vidal. "I had four incredible years there. I felt at home. The fans and the club always supported me.

"I would have liked to meet Juve in the semifinals or in the final. I didn't like the draw but that's football."

Vidal was loved by Juventus fans for his combative nature and dedication to the team, and he won't be expected to give any less against his old team.

"I admit, I miss Juve," Vidal said. "But now I defend the shirt and the colors of Bayern, and I will give my absolute all so my team manages to win the two matches and reach the quarterfinals."

Of the eight previous meetings between the sides, Bayern has four wins and Juventus three. But the German side has won the past three encounters.

Here are some things to know about Tuesday's match:



Apart from Vidal and Kingsley Coman, who return to their previous club after joining Bayern last year, Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic provides another familiar face after spending two seasons at Bayern from 2012-14.

Mandzukic, a combative forward and awkward opponent for any defender, helped Bayern win two Bundesliga titles and he scored in the Champions League final to help the side win its treble in 2013. Altogether, he scored 39 goals in 74 appearances, 33 in 54 league games.

But Mandzukic had a rocky relationship with Pep Guardiola, who took over as coach in 2013, and the club was known to favor Robert Lewandowski, still playing at the time for Borussia Dortmund.

Mandzukic resumed training Saturday following a month out injured.

"He will want to hurt Bayern, he will have a different hunger and motivation to us," Juventus defender Patrice Evra said. "When Mario's out there I've never seen a defender leave the pitch happy, because Mario works a lot for the team, he does a really important job."



Despite a shortage of first-choice central defenders — Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez are all injured — offense is the best form of defense for Bayern.

Both Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Mueller have been in top form this season, while Arjen Robben, Douglas Costa and Coman provide a stellar supporting cast.

Lewandowski and Mueller have formed a formidable partnership with 22 and 17 goals, respectively, helping Bayern go eight points clear in the Bundesliga. Their 39 goals after 22 rounds beats the record set by Bayern greats Gerd Mueller (24) and Uli Hoeness (13) in 1973.

"We can count on our players up front, and that's a good feeling," Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said.



Juventus will be hoping Sami Khedira can continue to be its good luck charm despite the midfielder's miserable streak against Bayern.

Khedira, who has missed parts of the campaign with injury, has not been on the losing side since he joined Juventus in the offseason, winning 14 matches and drawing the other two.

However, Khedira — who won the Bundesliga title with Stuttgart in 2007 — has been on the winning side only three times against Bayern and was in the Real Madrid team beaten by Bayern in the 2012 Champions League semifinals.

He did score twice in a 2-2 draw with Bayern in 2008, including a 90th-minute equalizer.

"I wouldn't mind scoring," Khedira said. "Especially because things haven't gone well against Bayern over the years. Our injury woes in defense won't decide the match, but our mentality will. If we don't approach the match correctly we won't trouble the Germans.

"They are one of the strongest teams in the world and you are free to believe they are favorites, but I believe Juve are on par with Bayern. We have the experience and characteristics to play in important matches like this."

Khedira is again returning from injury. He was rushed back for Juventus' victory against title rival Napoli but was rested for Friday's goalless draw at Bologna, which ended the team's run of 15 consecutive league wins — two short of the Serie A record.

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- AP


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