‘The road to Lisbon is through Germany’
This is what most of the Real Madrid fans have been saying for a while now. Real Madrid look to have come closer to the finals of the Champions League than they were able to in the last 3 seasons. A 1-0 advantage over Bayern Munich in the first leg is a huge thing for ‘Los Blancos’. The victory at the Bernabeu has made Real Madrid the favourites to go through to the final. However, it certainly won’t be easy for ‘The Whites’ as Pep Guardiola’s men will have a point to prove when they host Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena, one of the most feared destinations in Europe.
The second leg of the semi-final promises more action than the first leg as Europe’s two heavyweights come face to face, both equally determined to make it to the final. Ancelotti may have played it safe in the first leg with a rather defensive attitude with a team facing a few fitness issues. Ancelotti’s intentions were clear in the first leg – not to let Bayern score that crucial away goal – and the Real Madrid manager succeeded to do just that along with the bonus of a one goal advantage. While most people would expect Ancelotti to do the same in the second leg, he has managed to garner some interest by declaring that Real Madrid will play attacking football in the second leg. Pep Guardiola meanwhile, is confident about his players’ abilities and believes that they can step up and overturn the deficit. The pressure on both the clubs is huge and an exciting match awaits us. The fixture may just be one of the best games we have seen this season with the quality involved and the reputation associated with both the clubs.
Here are 5 things to watch out for in the second leg of the Semi-Final
Cristiano Ronaldo – the name says it all. The Ballon d’Or winner is just one goal short of setting an all-time record of highest number of goals scored in a single Champions League season. The Portuguese is level with long-time rival Lionel Messi, who currently holds the record with 14 goals. After missing out on the second leg against Borussia Dortmund and playing the first leg of the semi-final after coming back from an injury, Ronaldo was not at his best and was unable to get the goal which will help him create history yet again. The forward will be raring to go at the Allianz Arena as he seems to have got his touch back after scoring two beautiful goals over the weekend against Osasuna. With Ancelotti planning to play attack-minded football, Ronaldo will be looking to find the back of the net at every opportunity he gets. Cristiano Ronaldo believes he owes the Real Madrid a final and he has promised that he will not let them down. Expect him to go all out in the attempts to clear the road to Lisbon.
Carlo Ancelotti’s unbeaten run against Bayern
“Real Madrid’s black beast is not my black beast.”
This is what Carlo Ancelotti had to say when he was asked about Los Blancos’ historic bad performances against Bayern Munich. There is nothing wrong with what the Italian said. Ancelotti has never lost against Bayern Munich in the Champions League. Back in the days when Ancelotti managed AC Milan, he faced the Bavarian giants six times only to win 4 of these 6 ties and draw two. The icing on the cake is the fact that in two of the three times Bayern Munich and Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan met in the Champions League, Milan went on to win the coveted competition. A lot is at stake at the Allianz Arena for Carlo Ancelotti and his men – the possibility of entering the finals after a long gap of 12 years should be enough motivation for them.
The German curse
Real Madrid have made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League fourth time in a row now! Out of these 4 times this is the third time that they have been drawn against a German opposition. After being eliminated by Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, the Spanish giants are now on the verge of finally making it to the grand stage in the competition by beating Bayern Munich and avenging the painful loss they had to endure two seasons ago. The odds are in favour of ‘Los Blancos’ as they have already eliminated two German opponents in the knockout stage this season so far. They were able to beat Schalke 9-2 on aggregate in the round of 16 and then they very narrowly went past Dortmund in the quarter-final as they beat the German club 3-2 on aggregate. Real Madrid however were poor in Germany against Dortmund and almost let go off a 3 goal advantage and risked the possibility of being eliminated in the quarter-final itself. Bayern Munich could take advantage of the fact that Real Madrid do struggle on German soil. The Bavarian giants need to put up a strong fight and give Real Madrid hell on the return leg and not let them avenge that defeat two years ago. If Bayern Munich are able to dominate at home, they might just make it to the Champions League final for the third time in a row.
Arjen Robben and Franck Ribbery were allowed very little freedom in the first leg by a strong and gritty Real Madrid defence. However, in Germany, at the Allianz Arena, it may be a different story for the wingers! In front of their own supporters, last year’s Ballon d’Or contender Franck Ribery will have a point to prove. Arjen Robben would not like to see his former employers sail past Bayern Munich at their home. While Arjen Robben had a decent game in the first leg at the Bernabeu, he was helpless as there just wasn’t a way to get past the Real Madrid defence. On the other hand, Franck Ribery was far from impressive and his performance was below par. It might not be the case as they face Real Madrid at home in front of their own fans. The possibility of winning a second consecutive treble and also getting past the Champions League jinx by winning it twice in a row will serve as enough motivation for the two wingers who are one of the club’s most iconic players.
Farewell game for Casillas?
The Iker Casillas saga has been in the newspapers for too long now. From being the world’s best goalkeeper to being the club’s number two keeper, San Iker has seen it all! The game against Bayern Munich may be the last game for the long-standing captain this season. If Real Madrid fail to make it to the finals of the Champions League, Diego Lopez will be fielded between the sticks for the rest of the season which will only feature La Liga matches for Real Madrid. Everyone knows Iker Casillas deserves better! But the goalkeeper has been fairly patient and quietly accepted the manager’s decision in a dignified manner. Though the captain has always claimed to be loyal to Real Madrid and has also rubbished the rumours of a possible departure, the fact that a player of his stature deserves better just cannot be ignore. Casillas will certainly attract attention in the transfer window and it won’t be surprising if a top club is managed to lure him away from ‘The Whites’ by tempting the Spaniard with regular first-team football. If at all Real Madrid fail to make it past Bayern and Casillas decides to leave in the summer, the second leg of the semi-final at the Allianz Arena will be the last game ‘San Iker’ will play in the famous white stripes.