Allianz Arena, Munich
April 29, 2014; 19:45 BST
Bayern Munich host Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final clash. The Spanish side carries an significant 1-0 lead into this match after Karim Benzema’s goal in the first half proved to be the winner in the first leg. Despite all their possession, Bayern couldn’t find a way past the Real Madrid defence and they will have to be at their best to turn this match around.
The last time Real Madrid visited this stadium was in 2012 when Mario Gomez’s goal provided a 2-1 win for the home side. But a similar result will see Real Madrid through to the final.
Bayern Munich have already secured the Bundesliga title and their form has faltered a bit since doing that. But they are coming into this game on the back of a convincing 5-2 win over Werder Bremen and will be confident of getting the required result at Allianz Arena, having lost just twice at this ground this season, in all competitions.
Real Madrid on the other hand are finding it hard to keep up with Atletico Madrid in the race for the La Liga title this season and the Champions League to be the more likely of the two trophies at this point. They defeat Osasuna 4-0 in the last game as Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace and will come into this match with lot of confidence.
Team news and tactics
Pep Guardiola doesn’t have any new injury concerns to contain with ahead of this game. Thiago Alcantara, Xherdan Shaqiri, Holger Badstuber and Tom Starke continue their spell at the side-lines. Despite having most of his players available, the former Barcelona manager is expected to make some changes to the starting line-up he used in the first leg when his team failed to break down the Real Madrid defence.
Guardiola rested some of his players during their Bundesliga clash against Werder Bremen at the weekend. Mario Mandzukic will return to the starting line-up in place of Claudio Pizarro, who scored a brace in the last game. Mario Gotze will make way for Toni Kroos, while Arjen Robben replaces Thomas Muller on the wings.
Guardiola will be aware of the fact that both Cristiano Ronado and Gareth Bale will start for Real Madrid in this game and Rafinha, who was suspended for the clash against Werder Bremen, will find it hard to contain the Portuguese winger. He is likely to shift Philipp Lahm to the right back role, while Javi Martinez starts in the midfield, along with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos.
The battle between Lahm and Ronaldo will be an intriguing one to say the least, while Alaba looks to cope with Gareth Bale. Bayern Munich will once again have most of the possession, but they will have to be more precise in the final third to break through the Real Madrid defence. Robben and Ribery will once again be the crucial man in attack as they look to stretch the Real Madrid back four.
Expected starting line-up (4-1-4-1): Neuer (GK); Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba; Martinez; Robben, Kroos, Schweinsteiger, Ribery; Mandzukic
Like Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t face any new fitness concerns and will be able to field his strongest side. Alvaro Arbeloa, Jese and Sami Khedira are still out on the side-lines and remain unavailable for selection. But the good news for Real Madrid is that Gareth Bale, whose last start was in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona earlier this month, is expected to return to the starting line-up for this game. The former Tottenham Hotspur winger, who appeared only as a substitute in the first leg, missed out the match against Osasuna with flu.
Carlo Ancelotti also rested some key players during their match at the weekend, and is likely to make six changes to the starting line-up he used in that game. Iker Casillas will resume his role between the sticks, while Pepe and Daniel Carvajal return to the defence. Fabio Coentrao, who produced a wonderful performance in the first leg against Robben, is likely to drop back to the bench.
Xabi Alonso will return to the center of the park as Asier Illarramendi misses out, while Isco is likely to be replaced by Gareth Bale in attack. This means Angel Di Maria will drop back to the midfield alongside Alonso and Luka Modric, while Karim Benzema, who was an unused substitute in the last game, replaces Alvaro Morata at the top.
Having taken the precious lead the first leg, Carlo Ancelotti’s men have the perfect opportunity to execute their game plan. They will once again sit deep and absorb pressure from Bayern, who will dominate possession, and then try and sneak a goal on the counter attack using Ronaldo and Bale’s pace.
Expected starting line-up (4-3-3): Casillas (GK); Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Maria, Alonso, Modric; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
Players to watch-out for: Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich); Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Prediction: Bayern Munich 2-1 Real Madrid