Champions League action returns once again on Wednesday for Real Madrid when they travel to the Allianz Arena in Munich for the 1st leg of the semi-final. These clubs are quite familiar with each other and have become European rivals with so many matches between the two sides in the Champions League.
Real Madrid are looking to make it back to the final for the 3rd season in a row, while Bayern are looking to redeem themselves after being eliminated by Real in last year’s quarter-final. When these two last met, Real Madrid defeated Bayern 6-3 in the aggregate to move on to the semi-final against Monaco.
Bayern Munich defeated Sevilla 2-1 in the aggregate to move on to this season’s semi-final. And, of course, are sitting pretty at the top of the Bundesliga yet again. Real defeated Juventus at the last possible minute 4-3 in the aggregate, rather controversially if you ask Gianluigi Buffon.
While PSG and Juventus were formidable opponents, none may be more well-structured than Bayern Munich. There is talent at every part of the pitch including one James Rodriguez, who will no doubt be looking to prove himself up against his former club with his new one. Bayern may just be the toughest matchup for Real Madrid in theory. Real will absolutely be looking to win on the road to start a series leg yet again and taking that momentum back to the Bernabéu.
Real have just about a fully fit and unsuspended squad for Wednesday’s match. Nacho could potentially be back in the roster, but he likely won’t play even if healthy.
Bayern, on the other hand, have quite a few injuries and doubts for their lineup. David Alaba and Corentin Tolisso are both doubts for the match, while it is not confirmed they are questionable. Arturo Vidal will miss both legs, as it was confirmed nearly a week ago that he would miss the rest of the season due to knee surgery. Kingsley Coman is also a question for Bayern’s starting lineup. Manuel Neuer is still out.
Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Modric; Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema
I wouldn’t expect too much change to the starting XI that has brought so much success to the Champions League this season. This is what they rolled with against Juventus in the 1st leg in Turin, it’s likely this is what they will go with in Munich. Bale, Asensio, Vasquez, and Kovacic are all good options for substitutions coming off the bench.
Ulreich; Kimmich, Hummels, Boateng, Rafinha; Martinez, James, Thiago, Robben, Müller; Lewandowski
Thiago Alcantara was not in Bayern’s training squad, but it’s doubtful he won’t start come match time. Bayern also have Ribery if needed and potentially Coman if he is healthy.
2-2 Real Madrid-Bayern Munich
I’m taking the diplomatic approach and saying this match will end in a draw. Bayern is a fantastic side and I just don’t see Real doing to Bayern what they did to PSG and Juventus in those 1st legs. I could, of course, be wrong in my prediction for better or worse (hint: I usually am).
Real need all the away goals they can get because those become especially useful in the 2nd leg and can absolutely define who moves on to the final. A win would greatly be appreciated, but against a team like Bayern in the semi-final a draw wouldn’t be terrible. Real definitely do not want to lose, small or big, and give a ton of momentum to Bayern coming back to Madrid for the 2nd leg. Especially when you consider what Juventus almost pulled off in the quarter-final 2nd leg at the Bernabéu.
This will absolutely be a must-watch match and could end up being the best matchups in the Champions League so far this season. And, as always in this tournament, the world will be watching for a Ronaldo masterclass and what tricks he can pull off next.
HOW TO WATCH, STREAM CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
Time: 20:45 CET, 02:45pm EST, 11:45am Pacific.
Venue: Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany.
Available Streaming: FOX Sports GO (USA), Fubo.TV (EVERY Real Madrid game with a high-quality and legal stream, click here to sign up and benefit from a discount for new members and Managing Madrid readers).