Friday, Oct 24, 2014

Bayern Munich bank on home, history

Cristiano Ronaldo (C), the Champions League top scorer with 14 goals this season, arrives in Munich ahead of Real's semifinal. (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo (C), the Champions League top scorer with 14 goals this season, arrives in Munich ahead of Real's semifinal. (AP)
Agence-France Presse | Munich | Posted: April 29, 2014 12:25 am | Updated: April 29, 2014 4:58 pm

Bayern Munich plan on making home advantage count in today’s Champions League semi-final, second-leg, against Real Madrid having never lost at home to the Spanish giants.

Madrid arrive in the Bavarian capital holding a 1-0 lead thanks to Karim Benzema’s 19th-minute goal in last Wednesday’s first leg in Madrid and are looking to avenge their defeat at the same stage to Bayern two years ago.

History is on the Germans’ side.

Bayern have never lost to Real in Munich, with eight victories and one draw, to lead the overall series with 11 victories to Madrid’s eight from 21 encounters.

The second-leg is finely poised.

Real maintained their positive momentum since beating Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final before their first-leg victory over Bayern by romping to a 4-0 win over Osasuna in the Spanish league on Saturday. Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo proved he is fit for the Munich clash after a hamstring injury by scoring twice to leave him on 47 goals in all competitions for the season.

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti rested stars Benzema, who picked up a knee knock in the first leg, and Gareth Bale, who was recovering from flu, at Osasuna. The Italian has insisted both men should be fit to start at the Allianz Arena.

“I am sure that whatever eleven I play will be full of desire and excited to play such a big game,” said Ancelotti. “Everyone should be calm because we are going to prepare properly. The objective is to score, not to defend, and that is the manner in which we will continue to work.”

FIRST STRIKE CRUCIAL

Ancelotti has never lost to a German team in six encounters from his time as AC Milan manager, but the key to Tuesday’s game will be who scores first.

Real will be chasing the first goal in Munich which would leave Bayern needing to score at least three times to progress to their fourth Champions League final in five years. Worryingly for coach Pep Guardiola, Bayern have conceded the first goal in seven of their last nine matches since winning the Bundesliga title with a record seven matches to spare last month.

A woeful first-half in Saturday’s dress rehearsal saw the hosts 2-1 down to Werder Bremen in Munich before Bayern roared back with four second-half goals to claim a comfortable Bundesliga win. But the flattering scoreline failed to mask Bayern’s dreadful defending in the first 45 minutes, which Guardiola admitted gave him cause for concern.

“That is the first time that I have been a bit disappointed and sad about the first half — the fans didn’t deserve that,” said Guardiola. “We were better in the second half — that’s good for the mood ahead of the Madrid match — continued…

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