Bayern Munich might be seen as the underdogs going into the Champions League semifinal second leg at Real Madrid, but are the Spaniards guaranteed progress to the final? And are they inevitably on the way to their third consecutive title in Europe’s top competition?
That may be so, but there are many reasons why Bayern might pull off an upset and advance to the final in Kiev on May 26.
1. Goals guaranteed: Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski has failed to score in his past four Champions League games, his longest drought with the club. He has never failed to find the net in five consecutive outings in the competition.
2. Statistical optimism: Bayern Munich is on a run of two Champions League games without a victory. They have not gone three matches in a row without a victory in the competition since 2009 (September-November).
3. Coach Heynckes I and the approach for the second leg: “We have nothing to lose, and we we’ll play freely. Maybe more so than in the first leg because our game was not as fluid as we would have liked.”
4. Coach Heynckes II and penalty workshop: The 72-year-old former striker made his team practice penalties to be prepared. Why? In 2012 Bayern beat Real in a penalty shoot-out. “Something we should remember and repeat,” says Heynckes.
5. Coach Heynckes III and his Champions League record: The Bavarian’s manager has always reached the final when participating in the Champions League. The Moenchengladbach-born former German international on top won twice: The 1998 campaign with Real, the 2013 one with Bayern.
6. New beds for big dreams: The Bavarians have changed their hotel for the Madrid trip. In contrast to the year before, the 2018 German Champion is hoping another hotel near the near the heart of the Spanish capital will be bring them success.
7. James is coming home: The midfielder is returning to Madrid for the first time since he joined the 2013 treble winner last summer. While still on loan (Bayern are expected to take up an option to buy him permanently for an additional 42 million euros), the 26-year-old Columbian is the perfect guide to show his new teammates the best way to Real’s goal.
8. The return of David Alaba (next to Javi Martinez being back to action): The Austrian left-back is a real left back, in addition to Rafinha who replaced him in the first leg and was responsible for Real’s second goal in the first leg (2-1). The Brazilian has an excellent right foot and his original position is on the right. Left side specialist Alaba will increase Bayern’s pressure down the left wing. And Martinez has recovered from his concussion suffered in the first leg; that speaks for a clear mind.
9. Thomas Mueller’s unusual and robust motivation: Believe it or not, the 28-year-old German international never scored against Real Madrid in his seven games. “You’re kidding,” said Mueller adding he that he was unaware of the fact. After all, he scored 42 goals in the Champions League which makes him the most successful German goal-scorer ever. “Then it’s about time I score,” he commented. By the way: The final would be Mueller’s 100 Champions League game.
10. Real’s weakness at the back: The 3-0 victory in their group game against rank outsiders Apoel Nicosia was Real’s only game under Zinedine Zidane they were able to keep a clean sheet. Against Juve in the quarterfinals it was.
By Oliver Trust