Who Will Stop Madrid Now?
Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid
This is a true heavyweight clash, with Bayern and Real having previously met 24 times in this competition and both boasting 11 victories against each other. This will be their seventh meeting in the semifinals alone.
Real claimed a controversial quarterfinal victory over Bayern last season when Arturo Vidal was sent off for the Germans in a game that saw two of Cristiano Ronaldo’s three goals allowed to stand despite being offside.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, sacked by Real after guiding them to the 1998 Champions League title, goes into this game with the German club announcing that Eintracht Frankfurt coach Niko Kovac will replace him when he retires for a second time at the end of this season.
While Bayern have clinched yet another Bundesliga title this term, the club have not enjoyed a campaign without turbulence, with coach Carlo Ancelotti sacked midseason and replaced by Heynckes.
Real, meanwhile, sit fourth in La Liga, 15 points behind runaway leaders Barcelona, with their ongoing progression in the Champions League crucial in keeping coach Zinedine Zidane in a job.
Wednesday’s 3-1 quarterfinal second-leg defeat at home to Juventus exposed the frailties in Real’s team and their over-reliance on Ronaldo and centre-half Sergio Ramos, whose absence through suspension against Juve left Real hugely vulnerable at the back.
This is a tie between two giants, but both teams are arguably on the wane after long periods of success.
Who has the edge? With the second leg at the Bernabeu, and with Ronaldo in their side, Real are the slight favourites as they bid to win the Champions League for the third year in a row.