Next Wednesday, April 23, 2014 (11:45 AM Pacific), Real Madrid will go head-to-head with Bayern Munich at the emblematic Santiago Bernabéu for the Semi-finals first leg of the UEFA Champions League. This match that will mark Pep Guardiola’s return to Spain, to play against his greatest rivals during his stint at Barcelona.
Real Madrid will face next Wednesday’s match with renewed motivation thanks to the team’s win at the Copa del Rey final against the Blaugranas last week. Carlo Ancelotti’s side put up a quality and intelligent performance against a flimsy Barcelona and claimed the win after Gareth Bale’s solo glorious run that only ended when he passed the ball through Pinto to make the final 2-1.
Los Blancos’ campaign at the UEFA Champions League this season had been impressive and flawless until the second leg match of the previous round against Borussia Dortmund two weeks ago at Westfalenstadion, where Real Madrid sucumbed and was somehow dominated by a brave German side, which decided to bounce back from the 3-0 defeat from the first leg. The match ended in a 2-0 and the Spanish team might consider themselves lucky with the final outcome since Dortmund failed to transform their dominance into more goals.
For next Wednesday’s match, Carlo Ancelotti is certainly still worried about Cristiano Ronaldo’s physical condition. The Portuguese star is not yet fully recovered from his recent knee injury and his presence at the clash against Dortmund might be somewhat compromised. On the other hand, the Italian already knows for sure that he will not be able to count on Arbeloa, Jesé Rodriguez, Khedira, and Marcelo, all sidelined due to injury.
As for Bayern Munich, the already coronated Bundesliga champions have recently returned to victories at domestic competitions after trashing Kaiserslautern 5-1 at the DFB Pokal (German Cup) semi-finals and after last weekend’s away win over Eintracht Braunschweig. These two wins put an end to some unpleasant domestic results and served to somehow erase the home humiliation Bayern suffered at the hands of Borussia Dortmund almost two weeks ago from the supporters’ minds .
Bayern Munich’s campaign at UEFA Champions League this season has been marked by some fairly inconsistent performances. The German team experienced some unexpected difficulties against the feeble David Moyes’ Manchester United and only seemed to have woken up after Evra’s goal at Allianz Arena, which gave the Red Devils an unlikely advantage on the match.
For next Wednesday’s match, Pep Guardiola will still not be able to count on the midfielders Thiago Alcântara and Xherdan Shaqiri and with the backup goalkeepers Lukas Raeder and Tom Starke, all of them injured.
The last time both sides met at this competition was back in 2012 also for the semi-finals. The German side won a place in the finals after the match went to the penalty shootout at Santiago Bernabéu since both games ended with the same 2-1 result (the first one in favour of Bayern and the second one in favour of Los Blancos).
Next Wednesday’s match will certainly be a close one and it will be interesting to see if Pep Guardiola will carry on with his positive record at Bernabéu and whether or not he will be able to claim his tenth win as a manager at that mythical stadium. This being said, the most likely outcome is 1-1.
Real Madrid (4-2-3-1) – Casillas – Carvajal – Pepe – Sergio Ramos – Coentrão – Modric – Xabi Alonso – Bale – Di Maria – Ronaldo – Benzema
Bayern Munich (4-1-4-1) – Neuer, Rafinha, Dante, Javi Martinez, Boateng, Alaba, Lahm, Kroos, Schweinsteiger, Ribéry, Robben, Müller
Venue: Santiago Bernabéu
Referee: Howard Webb
TV Info: Fox Sports 1 USA.