Bayern Munich v Real Madrid: Match preview
Champions League semi-final ties simply don’t come any bigger than this.
It’s a titanic clash between two of world football’s genuine aristocrats, who boast 17 Champions League/European Cup trophies between them.
It is also the most played fixture in the history of the competition, with Wednesday’s first leg set to be their 25th meeting.
Just consider this snapshot of the glittering A-list cast that will take the Allianz Arena stage.
Cristiano Ronaldo. Robert Lewandowski. Gareth Bale. Thomas Muller. Toni Kroos. James Rodriguez (against his parent club, no less). Luka Modric. Arjen Robben. Sergio Ramos. Franck Ribery. Karim Benzema. Thiago Alcantara. Isco.
The list could go on.
It’s a genuinely thrilling prospect, particularly if last year’s epic quarter-final collision between the sides is anything to go by.
Real eventually emerged as 6-3 aggregate victors, but not before being pushed to the limit by a game Bayern.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg in Germany, the Bundesliga giants forced extra-time with a win by the same scoreline at the Bernabeu.
However, Arturo Vidal’s red card shortly before the end of normal time ultimately proved their undoing.
Real’s numerical advantage eventually allowed Ronaldo to complete a hat-trick with two goals in the additional 30 minutes, with Marco Asensio putting the cherry on the cake.
An equally intriguing factor in this latest meeting is that neither side has been so dominant in this year’s competition as to suggest the outcome can be viewed in any way as a formality.
Real are aiming for a remarkable hat-trick of European titles but have struggled badly in La Liga, failed to shine in the group stages and appear dangerously over-reliant on Ronaldo.
The manner in which Zinedine Zidane’s men almost blew a 3-0 quarter-final first-leg lead against Juventus – eventually being spared extra-time by Ronaldo’s late penalty at the Bernabeu – was startling in the extreme.
Bayern, meanwhile, have progressed through the competition with typical authority (albeit as runners-up to PSG in the group stages) but to no overwhelming critical fanfare.
Their gritty 2-1 aggregate success over Sevilla in the last eight was consistent with the largely unspoken but seemingly widely held view that they are an aging team who are unlikely to go all the way this year.
The Bavarians will certainly need to improve on their recent showings against Madrid if they are to reach a first final since 2013, when boss Jupp Heynckes guided them to victory over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.
Real, after all, have won each of the past five meetings.
Yet despite the weight of history in his favour, Zidane is taking nothing for granted.
“I have no doubts that mentally we will be at 150 per cent tomorrow,” he said.
“I don’t think there are any favourites. It’s a semi-final – it’s completely different to last season. It’s a different match, we can’t compare the two.
“I have huge respect for what Jupp Heynckes has achieved at Bayern and Real Madrid. I can only repay the compliments to him.
“We will need a big performance against a strong opponent. Bayern are a great club with great team spirit.”
Real’s huge wobble against Juventus – particularly the way they struggled to deal with crosses – will provide plenty of encouragement to Heynckes as he plots his former side’s downfall.
The German, of course, also delivered the Champions League for Real in 1998, and was promptly sacked eight days later.
Far too much water has passed under the bridge for the wily 72-year-old to still have a major axe to grind with the club.
But he would surely love to remove arguably the largest remaining obstacle in his personal quest to join Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley as the only men to have won this competition three times as a manager.
What a story that would be for a man who, lest we forget, came out of retirement just six months ago to answer the Bayern call for a fourth time following Ancelotti’s departure.
“I adore football and, if I do a job, I do it 100 per cent,” he said.
“These are the games you work for and lots of coaches never get the chance to play one of these in their lives. I came back at a very old age and now I have the privilege of being successful again, reaching a semi-final and possibly going through to the final.
“I am confident. Football has changed but my style of leadership, my approach, hasn’t.
“The game has progressed but in the end they are still people out on the pitch, people with different personalities and feelings.”
Ronaldo will, of course, have other ideas as he aims to extend his astonishing record of scoring in every Champions League game this season.
With 15 goals already chalked up in the first ten fixtures, he now has his record haul of 17 in 2013/14 firmly within his cross-hairs.
That naturally spells bad news for Bayern. Can they somehow muzzle him and carve out a lead to take to Madrid?
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid: Team news
Bayern were dealt a major blow ahead of the game with the news that Vidal will miss out after injuring his knee in training.
David Alaba is a significant doubt after sitting out Tuesday’s final training session with a thigh problem.
Kingsley Coman and Manuel Neuer remain unavailable, while midfielder Corentin Tolisso is also a doubt.
Real’s only absentee of note is defender Nacho.
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid: Head to head
Although Real have had the edge in recent times, the all-time record between the sides is perfectly matched at 11 wins apiece, with two draws.
Previous five meetings:
|18/04/17||Champions League||Real 4-2 Bayern AET||Ronaldo (3), Asensio; Lewandowski (pen), Ramos (OG)|
|12/04/17||Champions League||Bayern 1-2 Real||Vidal; Ronaldo (2)|
|29/04/14||Champions League||Bayern 0-4 Real||Ramos (2), Ronaldo (2)|
|23/04/14||Champions League||Real 1-0 Bayern||Benzema|
|25/04/12||Champions League||Real 2-1 Bayern||Ronaldo (2, 1 pen); Robben (pen)|
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid: Key statistics
This will be the third time since 2011/12 that Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have faced each other in the Champions League semi-finals, with the Germans progressing in 2011/12 and the Spaniards in 2013/14.
Bayern’s run of five consecutive Champions League defeats against Los Blancos is their worst losing run against an opponent in competition history.
Real Madrid have won each of their last two Champions League games against Bayern at the Allianz Arena, with both coming in seasons in which they went on to win the competition (4-0 in the semi-finals 2013/14 and 2-1 in the quarter-finals in 2016/17).
Jupp Heynckes has won 14 of his 16 home games at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League however (D1 L1), with Bayern scoring 48 goals and conceding just 10 in return.
Of managers to have taken charge of at least 20 games in the Champions League, this match features two of the top three managers in terms of win percentage – Jupp Heynckes (71%) and Zinedine Zidane (67%). Only Luis Enrique (73%) has a higher win ratio in the competition.
Zinedine Zidane has lost just one of his six combined Champions League games against Bayern as a player (P4 W2 D1 L1) and a manager (P2 W2), with that only defeat coming back in April 2002 at the Olympiastadion (1-2).
Cristiano Ronaldo has netted at least one goal in each of his last 11 games in the Champions League (17 in total); the longest scoring streak in competition history.
The 33-year-old has scored nine goals against Bayern Munich in the Champions League – the only player to have netted more goals against a single opponent in the competition is Ronaldo himself, scoring 10 v Juventus.
This game will feature the two top scorers in Champions League semi-finals history – Cristiano Ronaldo has netted 13 goals at this stage, while Robert Lewandowski has scored six times.
Of players to have made 50+ appearances in the Champions League, Isco has the best win percentage of any player in the competition (69% – 41 wins in 59 games).
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid: Match odds
Bayern Munich: 21/20
Real Madrid: 13/5
Bayern to advance: Evens
Real to advance: 8/11
All odds correct at time of writing with William Hill
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Bayern Munich defender David Alaba will face a late fitness before the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena.
Alaba sat out Bayern’s final training session on Tuesday with a thigh strain, but coach Jupp Heynckes says a decision will be made early on Wednesday as to whether he will be in the squad.
Midfielder Corentin Tolisso is also a doubt while Brazilian defender Rafinha is likely to replace Alaba if he fails to make the squad.
On-loan Real Madrid midfielder James Rodriguez could start after being used as a substitute in the 3-0 victory over Hannover on Saturday.
Madrid have no fresh injury concerns.
Bayern Munich coach Heynckes helped re-establish Real Madrid’s reputation as kings of Europe by winning the Champions League in 1998 after a 32-year drought.
But his memories were not fond ones as he was sacked eight days later when his side finished fourth in the league during his single season in charge.
Now Heynckes’ former club stand in the way of his bid to become only the third coach alongside Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley to win Europe’s biggest prize three times.
Bayern, who have already won the Budesliga title and the German Cup, are hoping to complete the treble in Heynckes’ fourth spell in charge.
But this time Bayern are the underdogs as 12-time champions Real Madrid are looking to win their third successive Champions League trophy under Zinedine Zidane.
“You have to look back to last October,” said Heynckes. “We did not think we were going to be champions with five games to spare and to be semi-finalists (in Europe).”
“These are two teams with a great tradition in European football, who play and love attractive football.
“It’s a difficult draw for both sides,” he added.
The Bayern coach also played down the threat of Real Madrid top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored in all 10 of their European matches this season – taking his tally to 42 goals in all competitions.
He scored five goals over two legs in Madrid’s 6-3 aggregate win over Bayern in the 2017 quarter-finals.
“Of course, he’s a big topic for us in the game analysis,” said Heynckes.
“But don’t forget we have Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 39 goals. So you have to ask, how can you stop Lewandowski?
“There are world-class players on both sides.”
Madrid coach Zidane said his side were going “to think positively” despite coming under criticism in recent weeks for missing a number of clear goalscoring chances.
“I’m not worried,” said Zidane. “It’s true that in the last two games we have had chances and we have not taken them but now we are going to have a game on Wednesday away from home.
“We are going to try to score and realise that this is football anything can happen, no matter who is playing on the pitch.”
German football writer Raphael Honigstein on the BBC Radio 5 live’s Euro Leagues Football Show
“Real Madrid are favourites, I think it’s a 60-40 situation. But Bayern will look at the other semi-finalists and think ‘they’re all there because they upset the odds along the way. Why can’t we do it?’
“I think James Rodriguez will play – he didn’t start at the weekend at Hannover which I think was a clear indication he will start.
“Bayern have shown very little of the fluidity and out-of-this-world football we’ve become accustomed to in this spell but they’ve almost become the Bayern of old – they somehow find a way of winning games.
“The mindset has changed and become more efficient and in the moment. They don’t dominate games like the unbelievable football of Guardiola, but they are just as good if not better at making the most out of the key moments.
“They will take some belief from what Juventus have done. Heynckes will never go all out. He’ll say ‘let’s keep it really tight and not concede if possible.”
- Bayern Munich and Real Madrid will meet for the 25th time in the European Cup/Champions League – it is already a record for the most common fixture in the tournament. Each side has won 11 of their meetings.
- This will be the third time since 2011-12 that Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have faced each other in the Champions League semi-finals, with the Germans progressing in 2011-12 and the Spaniards in 2013-14.
- Bayern Munich have lost each of their last five games against Real Madrid in the Champions League, with all five of those coming in the knockout rounds (three in the semi-finals and two in the quarter-finals).
- Bayern’s run of five consecutive Champions League defeats against Los Blancos is their worst losing run against an opponent in competition history.
- Jupp Heynckes has won 14 of his 16 home games at the Allianz Arena in the Champions League (D1 L1), with Bayern scoring 48 goals and conceding just 10 in return.
- Of managers to have taken charge of at least 20 games in the Champions League, this match features two of the top three managers in terms of win percentage – Jupp Heynckes (71%) and Zinedine Zidane (67%). Only Luis Enrique (73%) has a higher win ratio in the competition.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has netted at least one goal in each of his last 11 games in the Champions League (17 in total); the longest scoring streak in competition history.
- The 33-year-old has scored nine goals against Bayern Munich in the Champions League – the only player to have netted more goals against a single opponent in the competition is Ronaldo himself, scoring 10 v Juventus.
- This game will feature the two top scorers in Champions League semi-finals history – Cristiano Ronaldo has netted 13 goals at this stage, while Robert Lewandowski has scored six times.