Champions League Semi-Final Preview: FC Bayern vs. Real Madrid
Road to Final in Munich goes through Madrid
Allianz Arena, Munich, April 16 – It’s been the goal since their exit in the Champions League last year, a devastating loss in March 2011 to Inter Milan in the Final 16… since they clinched a qualification spot at the end of the Bundesliga season in May… since they started the qualification campaign back in August.
The Champions League Final at home. At the Allianz Arena. May 19th, 2012.
FC Bayern München are one long, difficult step away from achieving that goal. In their way, a little club called Real Madrid.
“Having the final here in Munich is an important extra motivation for us,” admitted Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes. “The guys want to fulfil their dream and play a home final here. The chance to play the final at your home ground is once in a lifetime.”
Bayern will have to overcome not only traditional European power Real Madrid, but the history that these two clubs share. The last four times that these clubs have played, the team with the home game in the return leg has moved on in the tournament. This year, Real will have that advantage.
The one time the Bavarians played the first game of this matchup at home and moved on was back in 1987, when they won 4-1 and were able to hold off the Spaniards 1-0 at the Bernabéu. That will be the key for FCB – to score early, and often, and build a big enough lead to absorb what can be expected in Madrid – a loss.
In this series, Bayern are unbeated at home in nine matches (eight wins, one draw). Real have taken the last three results in Madrid. Getting the upper hand will be important for each club, so what kind of match shall we expect?
“It will be a difficult game tomorrow, but there are no easy games these days – especially not in a Champions League semifinal,” said Real defender Sergio Ramos. “We will have to be very focused. They have a lot of quality in their team with players like (Arjen) Robben or (Mario) Gomez who can make the difference.”
“We will play aggressive and fight until the final minutes,” promised Bayern defender Philipp Lahm.
Lahm and his defensive counterparts will have the tough assignment to stop the most dangerous, creative player in Christiano Ronaldo. Sure, Robben and Franck Ribéry can also play at the level of Ronaldo at times, and Gomez has more goals, but the Portuguese star plays the main role in Freddy Kreuger-type nightmares for defenses like no other, except for Lionel Messi. His offensive prowess, speed, and set piece ability makes him a threat anywhere on the field.
“He is a player who is everywhere on the field, so it won’t just be Lahm’s duty to get control of him – it will be the whole team’s,” warned Heynckes. “Of course we have a strategy (to stop him), but in the end the players on the field will decide.”
Bayern will be hoping that Real may be looking forward to their derby match against FC Barcelona, but coach José Mourinho let everyone know, they won’t be distracted. “We have nothing to lose in the Champions League. The only thing we have lost this season is the Spanish Cup. Now we are concentrating on the Champions League and the Spanish championship.”
And if there is one person who can stop Bayern, Mourinho can draw upon his experience from the 2010 Final, where as coach of Inter, he destroyed Munich’s dream of the elusive treble, winning it for the Italian side themselves, and picking up the trophy with his second team.
When asked what team will be on the pitch, The Special One was elusive as ever. “I know who will be on the field, on the bench and in the stands tomorrow. For matches like this I know who will play some days in advance. I won’t tell you anything about my team for the game.”
So the stage is set. Two European powerhouses, with winning traditions and a rich history of results and stars between them. And as always, glory will be at stake.
Lahm put it best. “This will be a great game between two super teams – it’s doesn’t get any better than this.”
Clash of the Titans – European footballing powers Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have crossed paths before with continental glory at stake. Here’s a look at the results when they played each other and the effects after:
Semi-Final – Bayern Munich 1-1, 2-0 (3-1) – FCB won Cup
Semi-Final – Bayern Munich 4-1, 1-0 (4-2) – FCB lost in Final
Quarter-Final – Real Madrid 2-3, 2-0 (4-3) – RMA lost in Semis
2nd Round Group
Bayern Munich 4-2, 4-1 (FCB 1st place, RMA 2nd place)
Real Madrid 2-0, 1-2 (3-2) – RMA won Cup
Semi-Final – Bayern Munich 1-0, 2-1 (3-1) – FCB won Cup
Quarter-Final – Real Madrid 1-2, 2-0 (3-2) – RMA won Cup
2nd Round – Real Madrid 1-1, 1-0 (2-1) – RMA lost in Quarter-Finals
2nd Round – Bayern Munich 2-3, 2-1 (4-4) FCB won away goals – FCB lost in Quarterfinals
Did you know… Arjen Robben played for Real Madrid from 2007 till 2009, scoring 11 goals in 50 La Liga appearances… Jupp Heynckes coached Real for one season and won the UEFA Champions League in the 1997-98 campaign… José Mourinho also beat Bayern as coach of Chelsea FC in 2004-05… Mourinho is one of three coaches who have won the Champions League trophy with two different clubs, and will looking for his own treble. Source: UEFA
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