Champions League Preview : Real Madrid v Bayern Munich

Real Madrid vs Bayern

Real Madrid vs Bayern Munchen

The reigning European Champions, Bayern Munich have finally hit a stumble in their way to another Champions League triumph and forced to work out a way to defeat their Spanish opponents. Till date, they have had a free run in their mission to defend the title. Save for an inconsequential loss against Manchester City, the Bavarian giants have looked unassailable and the impact of Pep Guardiola has been clearly visible.

The last time these two met, Jose Mourinho was humbled by Jupp Heynckes as Real Madrid lost the tie in a penalty shootout with Sergio Ramos infamously skying the ball and Ronaldo missing his penalty.

Real Madrid, are on  a high after their Copa Del Rey win and will be looking to carry the momentum into the first leg. While Bayern, on the other hand have shown signs of breaking down for the first time with a 3-0 loss against Dortmund. Although they played with a relatively weak team and had won the Bundesliga title, they have expressed small cracks in their defense.

Team News

Real Madrid

Real Madrid may lose out on their talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo for the first leg due to be played in the Santiago Bernabeu. The last time they played, Ronaldo was the man who saved the blushes for Real Madrid by scoring twice across the two legs, but he looks set to miss out the home tie for Real Madrid.

Sami Khedira and Alvaro Arbeloa have also joined Ronaldo on the list of players who have already been ruled out for the match. Sami Khedira, has been absent for much of this season and although not visibly expressed, they are clearly missing him dearly in midfield. His work-rate and strong tackling always gave the team an edge over the opposition but now, they do not have a player to replace him. Luka Modric plays really well but then, his legs aren’t used to running the full 90 minutes.

Bayern Munich

The Bavarians have just two absentees who are regular starters, Xherdan Shaqiri and Manuel Neuer. While the former may not be so important, the latter will be missed terribly by Munich. Arguably the best goalkeeper in the world, he has been excellent this season with his redefined role as a third defender cum goalkeeper. Operating just outside the penalty box, he has been rock solid behind the defense and his goalkeeping skills have never been in question.

The absence of Manuel Neuer is a huge gap to plug and it is one that could potentially be exploited by Real Madrid. To keep with his absence, the Munich Defense should be up tight with no allowance for any mistake.

Formation and Line-up :

Real Madrid ( 4-2-3-1 )

Iker Casillas

Carvajal – Ramos – Pepe – Marcelo

Modric – Alonso

Di Maria — Isco — Bale

Benzema

Bayern Munich ( 4-3-3 )

              Starke

Rafinha – Martinez – Boateng – Alaba

Lahm – Schweinstiger – Kroos

Robben – Muller – Ribery

Key Players

Toni Kroos

High interest from United in Kroos

Toni Kroos has engineered Bayern’s success this season

Easily the most under-appreciated player in Europe, Toni Kroos is a midfielder of the highest quality. A man who can hold his own against any midfield, Kroos will be vital to Bayern’s chances. What makes him crucial is his versatility and ability to play anywhere in the midfield. With Madrid playing a slow midfield, one can expect Guardiola to hold back Kroos to the half-line so that he is given the most time with the ball.

Lahm’s positioning between the lines of the opposition will be important as that would give Kroos the right to control the game from behind their midfield. With a certain Thomas Muller looking to find an opening, Kroos is the trump card for Bayern and Madrid should look to mark him out of the game.

Gareth Bale

Bale has been terrific for Madrid

Bale will a major threat for the Bavarian giants!

Eight seconds was all it took for Gareth Bale to end Barcelona’s hopes of the Copa Del Rey title this season. Picking up the ball from the back, he took just eight seconds to cover 58 meters and score past Pinto to give Madrid the lead in the 87th minute. En route to his goal, his acceleration left Marc Bartra stranded for breath as the young Spaniard couldn’t stop Bale even after pushing him near the team’s dug-out.

With such a devastating weapon in his armoury, Gareth Bale can split open any defender with his turn of pace and acceleration. While he was played as a striker against Barcelona, you can expect him to play on the left side against Bayern. Rafinha, for all his disciplined defending does not possess the pace of Gareth Bale and should always be ready to take the blame should Bale score.

Pep Guardiola’s record against Real Madrid – Won 9- Lost 4- Drawn 2

Carlo Ancelloti’s record against Bayern Munich – 6 played, 4 won, 2 drawn

Head to Head ( Real Madrid and Bayern Munich )

Bayern Munich – Won 8

Real Madrid – Won 5

Drawn – 1

Prediction

Given that both the teams are equally matched, it would be really hard to predict a winner. While Guardiola’s Bayern have looked exquisite and immovable, Real Madrid’s counter-attacking philosophy has been devastating, to say the least.

The fact that the second leg is in Munich gives a slight advantage for Madrid. Should the match go into extra time, Real Madrid would have the advantage as Bayern would have to score two goals for every one of Real Madrid’s goals. Although this occurs in every two-legged tie with the away goals rule, it could be crucial in a match of such magnitude.

Real Madrid 2 – 1 Bayern Munich ( 1st leg prediction )



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