Bayern Munich is set to lock horns with Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Champions League in what many has dubbed the “El classico” of the competition.
Both sides met in the quarter-finals of last season’s Champions League with Real Madrid edging it over two legs and went on to win the title for the second consecutive season running. The Bavarians will be fired up for this one as they bid to eliminate Los Blancos and continue their hunt for a treble.
Heynckes, a man on a Mission
Jupp Heynckes came back from retirement to replace Carlo Ancelotti who struggled to get results early this season. His presence has been a breath of fresh air in the Allianz arena considering how Bayern have recovered from the early season blues to wrap up the title and book a place in the German Cup final.
Heynckes is a veteran in European competitions and a serial winner having won the title on two previous occasions and would be aiming to join the likes of Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti to make it a hat-trick of Champions League titles. However, he would need to overcome Zidane’s led Madrid who is also eyeing a third successive victory in the competition.
The 72-year old tactician will be motivated to eliminate his former side citing his experience at the Bernabeu two decades ago when he guided the team to win the Champions League but was later shown the exit doors.
Key Players and Stats
Bayern have struggled against Spanish sides in recent times. They managed to break the jinx by beating Sevilla 2-1 on aggregate in the last round. In general, they’ve found it difficult to break down Spanish oppositions particularly against Madrid: a team that boasts a better head to head record against them.
Zizou would once again be banking on the experience of his team to get them to the finals especially with Ronaldo in red-hot form (15 UCL goals). In the middle of the park, they can rely on the services of Modric, Kroos, and Casemiro to deliver the balls and protect the backline.
On the other hand, Bayern will bank of Lewandowski to bang in the goals with the likes of Muller, Robben, and Ribery ready to deliver the crosses. Arturo Vidal will be a big miss in the middle. However, they can call on the services of Martinez to replace him.
If Bayern comes up against the same Madrid that played Juve at the Bernabeu, then this tie could as well be wrapped up in the first leg because the Germans will be keen on revenge and would punish any defensive error.
Madrid’s experience at this stage of the competition and their previous triumphs over Bayern gives them a psychological edge heading into this encounter. In all, it’s too close to call. But I slightly favour Bayern to get a home win. Prediction- Bayern 2-1 Real Madrid