MILAN – Arjen Robben's late goal on Wednesday gave Bayern breathing room going to Zurich. (Photo: CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Villarreal must get a win over Denmark's Odense BK while Bayern go to Switzerland to protect a two-goal lead against FC Zurich as the Champions League playoffs continue Tuesday.
The Champions league playoffs will conclude Wednesday with five games, including Udinese versus Arsenal in what is now a critical match for the English giants . Every Champions League game is live on the FOX family of networks starting 2 p.m. Eastern, with all matches covered in real time on Twitter at @foxsoccertrax .
Tuesday's marquee sees the Yellow Submarine looking to recover from Wednesday's shock loss in Denmark . Then, Villarreal made the mistake of playing far too casually, wasting chances while failing to use their technical superiority and speed. Villarreal paid for that when Hans Henrik Andreasen slammed home the winner with six left to play to give the Danes the upset win of the round.
But the Spaniards are hardly down and out.
Villarreal have won eight straight European games at El Madrigal and have serious firepower in New Jersey-born marksman Giuseppi Rossi and Nilmar. Last time out, Villarreal shelled keeper Stefan Wessels and were unlucky not to net two. Should the Spaniards fail to break down the Danes, it would be the collapse of the round.
Bayern were never totally convincing last week , needing a complete performance from Arjen Robben to cover up an egregious display by Mario Gomez. They take a 2-0 lead from the Allianz into Zurich nonetheless.
By all accounts, Munich should sail through in comfort and is hitting stride as well. After a lethargic start that had the club seeking reinforcements up top after a summer of spending on the defense, they trashed Hamburg 5-0 on Saturday .
The pressure that the Bavarians face is largely external. The aforementioned slow start led to predictable hand-wringing and drama in Munich. This past weekend, former players like Oliver Kahn and Franz Beckenbauer piled on the team by criticizing Phillip Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger's on-field leadership.
One player to keep an eye on is Zurich keeper Johnny Leoni. In Munich, he was brilliant, keeping his team alive with a series of daredevil stops before finally being forced to watch a vintage Robben goal sail past him to ice the game. If Leoni can keep things tight, he'll give front-runner Amine Chermeti a chance to take it to Manuel Neuer.
At least two of our other three games remain live. The one that looks settled sees Malmo hosting Dinamo Zagreb after the Croats cremated them 4-1 last time out. Dinamo attacker Sammir was too much for the Swedes to handle and Dusan Melicharek had a nightmare in the nets, conceding a penalty and giving Zagreb the opener with a wayward outlet pass.
Racing Genk have an away goal after falling 2-1 at Maccabi Haifa but remain in turmoil after the departure of manager Frank Vercauteren following that game. Injured players Kevin de Bruyne and Marvin Ogunjimi were dearly missed in the encounter. De Bruyne, a Chelsea target , is also expected to depart the club despite having a torn calf muscle. Such reasons led to inconsistent play from the Belgians in the first half and were eventually revived later as the game progressed.
Wisla Krakow carry a 1-0 lead to Cyprus after a weird game against APOEL Nicosia that saw some attractive play but little effort in front of the goal. Both teams are weak, and either qualifier is expected to be little more than cannon fodder come September. Key man Patryk Malecki will lead Wisla out again.
The Cypriots actually did enough in Poland to suggest that home field advantage might serve them well. They need to offer more than midfield creativity, however, to achieve a result.