Tuesday, February 20 – 8:45pm local time – Allianz Arena, Munich.
Germany has for the longest time been the crest of the wave in world football. This culture of ruthless, metronomic coherence has been the template for German efficiency, transferring the kindred spirit from one generation to the next.
One such club that has reaped massive dividends from this has been Bayern Munich. The five-time European champions are the quintessential embodiment of the benefits of upholding traditions.
Bayern has for decades been the face of German football at club level, which is why its shrewd dominance in the Bundesliga is being normalized, despite the fact that it, by and large, borders on criminal.
Characteristically upbeat and with financial steam often burning a hole in their pocket, the Bavarians are 19 points aloft of Borussia Dortmund in the standings, as they graciously make their way to a sixth consecutive Bundesliga crown; Lending to the theory that economics off the pitch has a direct link to the success on it.
Despite having an embattled start to the season that ended with the sacking of veteran manager Carlo Ancelotti, Bayern soon found their stride under the interim stewardship of former manager and 2013 Champions League winner Jupp Heynckes.
Their quest for a sixth European title sees the Bundesliga leader welcome Besiktas to the Allianz for the first leg of the last-16 of the Champions League.
Whereas other European powerhouses such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus got swashbuckling fixtures, Bayern secured a relatively easy tie despite finishing second in Group B behind Paris Saint-Germain, but ahead of Celtic and Anderlecht, which were third and fourth respectively.
Besiktas conversely were the eventual winners of Group G, finishing four points ahead of Porto, seven to RB Leipzig and a distant twelve points above AS Monaco.
The Turkish champions are a burgeoning side on the European front having proved that they were not just there to make up the numbers in the group stage of the Champions League.
As such, head coach Senol Gunes will front his strongest side, save for the enforced absence of Dusko Tosic and long-term absentee Atinc Nukan through injury.
France international Kingsley Coman could be sidelined for the hosts due to illness while the injured Manuel Neuer remains unavailable.
Bayern were edgy over the weekend against Wolfsburg but their plethora of gallant goal scorers came to their rescue to claim at 2-1 win at the Volkswagen Arena.
Besiktas on the other hand could only manage a 1-1 draw with Konyaspor, but still maintain their position at the summit of the Super Lig.
The Black Eagles will be hoping to register a catch against the Bavarians but as it is, there will be no license to fly in Munich.
Bayern vs. Besiktas recent results
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE
Bayern 2-0 Besiktas (September 17, 1997)
Thomas Helmer 3′
Mario Basler 70′
Besiktas 0-2 Bayern (November 25, 1997)
Carsten Jancker 5′
Thomas Helmer 31′
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