Champions League: Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Bayern Munich’s Champions League pretensions are hanging by a thread as they head to Madrid for the second leg of their semi-final.
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Michaela Rehle)
Another season, another almost inevitable Real Madrid appearance in a Champions League final.
Bayern Munich, though, will be wondering how it happened. After dominating the first leg of the semi-final by almost every metric, the German champions ended up running out 2-1 losers last week.
Heading to the Bernabeu, Jupp Heynckes’ side will be hoping to pull off the kind of performance that Juventus put on in the stadium in the previous round.
Where there are positives to be found is in the fact that Real Madrid have struggled domestically this season. With four games left in La Liga, they still have a chance to overtake their cross-city rivals Atletico Madrid and finish second behind newly-crowned champions Barcelona.
Bayern, having cruised to the Bundesliga title, face an opposite problem: is their league not competitive enough? Six trophies in six seasons would suggest that.
In Madrid, then, the Bavarians face their ultimate challenge for the season. If they can pass the test, they will go into the final as favourites.
Last Time Out
Real Madrid 2-1 Leganes (La Liga)
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Javier Barbancho)
When Real Madrid went up 2-0 in the first half against Leganes, it looked as though the match would present them with little difficulty.
A quickfire goal from Gareth Bale put the Champions League holders up early in the first half before Borja Mayoral bookended the half with a tap in at the back post.
However, a second-half goal from Darko Brasanac made things a little more tetchy than Los Blancos might have liked.
In the end, though, all that Leganes could pick up was a red card, leaving Real Madrid with all three points.
Bayern Munich 4-1 Eintracht Frankfurt (Bundesliga)
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Michael Dalder)
Having won the Bundesliga with games to spare, Bayern fielded an experimental XI for the visit of Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, allowing them to rest players before their Champions League clash on Tuesday.
This did not hold them back, though. Die Roten ended up running out comfortable victors despite Frankfurt looking like they might push them for moments.
Niklas Dorsch’s goal in the first half put Bayern ahead but the single goal difference lasted until the 75th minute when Sandro Wagner scored to put them 2-0 up.
Shortly after, Sebastien Haller popped up to reduce the arrears to one but, in the end, Bayern pulled away thanks to late goals from Rafinha and Niklas Sule to take the result beyond doubt.
Real Madrid Lineup
Isco (shoulder) and Dani Carvajal (thigh) are both unavailable for Zinedine Zidane. Other than this, though, he will have the full pick of his squad.
Bayern Munich Lineup
Bayern Munich have more pressing injury concerns. Arturo Vidal and Jerome Boateng are both out for the rest of the season while Javi Martinez is being kept under observation having picked up a concussion in the first leg.
Elsewhere, David Alaba could make a return and Arjen Robben is waiting to hear if he’s passed a late fitness test.
Key Battle: Casemiro (Real Madrid) vs Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)
Given the fact that Real Madrid have two away goals from the first leg, it is fundamental that Bayern Munich score at least two.
This means that Real Madrid will need to defend well and Bayern will need to be proactive.
Casemiro is an important cog in Los Blancos defensive armoury. In recent weeks, though, questions have been raised as to the Brazilian’s ability under pressure.
(Photo credit: REUTERS/Michaela Rehle)
For the opposition, Corentin Tolisso will be fundamental to unlocking the Real Madrid defence. Although he has been played, he has not been played anywhere near regularly enough to be considered a solid member of the starting XI.
With Arturo Vidal out, this is the Frenchman’s chance to shine and make a case to become a regular inclusion in this Bayern side.
Can Real Madrid keep being lucky?
Of course, one of the things about winning teams is that they do so often against the odds.
There is no one who thinks this Real Madrid team is perfect. They have an over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo. They are defensively weak. They do not have any sort of squad depth to write home about.
However, even when it seems as though they should lose, they come through.
Can this keep happening through the rest of the tournament?
Is Bayern’s season over yet again?
Bayern’s raison d’etre is to win the Champions League.
Yes, they like to win the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal. But they have done so consistently for so long now that the allure is gone.
If Die Roten drop out of the competition again then big questions will be raised. Will Niko Kovac be enough to turn things around? Are the problems structural? Is it the league that lets them down?
If they can’t answer these questions then they might struggle to attract the sorts of players they need to win the competition in future.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich
It’s hard to see anything happening here than Real Madrid progressing to a final in which they can win a record third consecutive Champions League title.
Of course, Bayern have the players to cause and upset in the Bernabeu but even when Juventus overturned a three-goal deficit, Real Madrid found their way through.