Gloucester's early season form swept all before them in both Heineken Cup and League action but they have suffered a slight dip recently especially with a narrow defeat last week against Worcester. They're certainly one team that have not been well served by the 3 month break in Heineken Cup action and they don't look as clinical or powerful recently as they were when winning five out of six pool stage matches to sneak a group which included fellow quarter finalists, the Ospreys.
If they're going get past the niggly Irishmen of Munster, they're going to have to sort themselves out and ensure they're performing absolutely full throttle.What a challenge Munster represent for Dean Ryan's men - every year they achieve in this competition and they must be up there amongst potential favourites again this season following their progress from the so called 'group of death', including Wasps and Clermont Auvergne.
They are packed full of class from 1 to 15. In the scrum, they will look to use the power of O'Connell, who will want to answer the doubting questioners, the sheer commitment and bloody-mindedness of O'Callahan, who's taking on the former's mantle.
Behind the front 8 Peter Stringer will once again act as the master puppeteer at scrum half and is sure to link his forwards seamlessly with the man at fly half, Ronan O'Gara. The Munster No.10 has become arguably more important to Irish Rugby now than the great Brian O'Driscoll and if he get's his side's back line moving as he so often does, Gloucester will have their hands full.
Gloucester have twice beaten Munster at Kingsholm in this competition so will draw on that experience, looking to key men such as the heartbeat of the team, Peter Buxton, in the second row, standout Scottish performer in the 6 Nations, Alasdair Strokosch, and the razor sharp James Simpson Daniel, who's in flying form at the moment. He must lacerate the Munster defence, pick holes through Tipoki and Mafi and conjure up some of his recent magic if Gloucester are to progress.
There's no doubt however that Gloucester start as serious underdogs, even with the sell out crowd behind them.