Real Madrid will be looking to defend their 2-1 lead when they play host to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-final.
After a convincing 2-1 display away from home at the Allianz Arena, the ball is now in Real Madrid’s court as avoiding defeat in the return fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu will be enough to see them book a berth in the final four of this season’s competition.
The Germans go into this one as mark underdogs as they will still be reeling from Cristiano Ronaldo’s brace in the first leg. Despite taking a first-half lead through Arturo Vidal, they failed to keep it tight at the back, and eventually paid the price.
That being said, Bayern are one of Europe’s strongest outfits and have enough in their tank to come away with a victory from their travels to Spain. Manager Carlo Ancelotti will be relishing a return to the Santiago Bernabeu, and will look to spoil the party of his former employers.
Team News and Tactics
Manager Zinedine Zidane knew the importance of this game, and decided to rest Cristiano Ronaldo for Real’s weekend match against Sporting, after he reached a 100 Champions League goals few days prior to the game.
It is safe to say that the Frenchman will bring back the Portuguese talisman, and he is expected to start on the left side of the attacking three. Centrally, Karim Benzema has been Zidane’s go to option, especially in the Champions League, and is expected to lead the line.
However, Real will miss the services of their third attacking sensation Gareth Bale. The Welsh wing wizard has been ruled out of the game, as Zidane doesn’t want to risk further damage as he only recently returned to full fitness.
To combat the absence of Bale, Zidane is expected to start Isco on the right side of the attacking three, and will be hoping for his creativity to reap high rewards in the final third for Los Merengues.
The Real boss could weigh in with a few surprises as Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez could both be in line for a rare start, and they’re out-and-out wingers unlike Isco, who prefers to play in a more central position.
Real have huge problems on the defensive front as well as Pepe and Raphael Varane are both ruled out for the game against Bayern. Zidane is expected to stick with Nacho partnering Sergio Ramos at the heart of the defence.
Real Madrid Probable XI (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo; Kroos, Casemiro, Modric; Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo.
After being a massive doubt in the entire build-up to the second leg, Bayern Munich striker Roberto Lewandowski is understood to have recovered from any minor injury and is likely to start the second leg.
Ancelotti told the press that he has traveled and trained with the first team, and there wasn’t any problem with his fitness levels during training. This will come as a major boost to Bayern and their chances of scoring at least two goals away at the Bernabeu.
Thomas Muller has not been in the best of form this season, and is unlikely to be a part of the starting eleven. The Bayern boss will look to deploy form Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara in attacking midfield position, playing in behind Lewandowski.
This game will also see former Real Madrid midfield maestro Xabi Alonso return to the Bernabeu, for what could be his final visit to Spain as a football player. He is expected to hang up his boots come the end of the season, and will looking to get a win over his former side.
Javi Martinez is suspended for this game after being sent off in the first leg, while Mats Hummels is out through injury. This could see David Alaba play as a centre-back and Juan Bernat coming on the left side.
Bayern Munich Probable XI (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Alaba, Bernat; Vidal, Alonso; Robben, Thiago, Ribery; Lewandowski.
- All five previous teams winning 2-1 away from home in the first leg of their Champions League knockout tie have progressed to the next round.
- Bayern have lost eight of their last 10 away games against Real in all competitions (W2), including the last five. In fact, Bayern last beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in May 2001 thanks to a goal by Giovane Elber (1-0).
- Since 2010-11, Real Madrid have won 34 of their 40 Champions League games at the Bernabeu (D4 L2). Their two defeats during that time were against Barcelona in April 2011 (0-2) and Schalke in March 2015 (3-4).
- They have also never failed to score in their last 34 Champions League home games, longest ever run in the competition. Barcelona were the last team to leave the Bernabeu with a clean sheet (2-0 in April 2011).
- Los Blancos have reached the semi-finals in each of the previous six seasons. A seventh in a row would constitute a new record.
Player to watch out for
If Bayern are to progress, Lewandowski will have to put in one of his finest performances in the red of the Bavarians. Despite missing key names in defence, Real have still been rock-solid at the back, and Casemiro has also done a phenomenal job in shielding the back four.
Lewandowski is one of the best number nines in world football today, and if anyone can find a way to pierce through the Real defence, it is him. He will have an array of creative players playing around him, and the onus will be on him to apply the finishing touches.
Real Madrid 1-1 Bayern Munich
Real Madrid have been solid at home in the Champions League this season, and are expected to keep the Bundesliga giants at bay in this one. They will not sit and play with their backs to the wall, but will look to take the game to their opponents.
Also, with Marcelo and Carvajal boasting a staggering work-rate, the Spaniards could look to play on the counter-attack. Both teams are expected to nullify each other, and it could end in a stalemate.