The two Champions League favourites meet when Real Madrid host holders Bayern Munich in the first leg of their semi-final tie on Wednesday (19:45 BST, live on Sky Sports).
Real Madrid come into the match on the back of a week of rest following their Copa del Rey final victory over Barcelona. They are third in the Primera Division table, six points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with a game in hand, with 79 points from 25 wins, four draws and four defeats.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side progressed to the Champions League knockout stages by topping Group B with 16 points from five wins and one draw. They thrashed Schalke 9-2 on aggregate in the round of 16, but found the going tougher against Borussia Dortmund in the last eight, winning 3-2 on aggregate after surviving a few second-leg scares.
Ancelotti experimented with a number of tactical alignments in the early part of the season before settling on a 4-3-3 formation. He has introduced a more possession-based style of play, with Luka Modric taking on a role of greater importance, but his side still possess the necessary pace and power to counter-attack as efficiently as they did under Jose Mourinho.
Madrid are La Liga’s top scorers and have also averaged more than three goals per match in the Champions League. Cristiano Ronaldo remains their primary threat, but Gareth Bale (pictured) and Karim Benzema are also very dangerous in the final third. They are relatively solid in defence, but varied movement can prove troublesome for them, as illustrated by the second leg against Dortmund.
Ancelotti will definitely be without Alvaro Arbeloa (knee), Jese Rodriguez (knee) and Sami Khedira (knee), but is expected to welcome Ronaldo back into the fold after three or so weeks on the sidelines with knee and hamstring injuries. Marcelo is likely to return to the squad after his own injury layoff, but is not expected to start.
Bayern Munich travel to Madrid on the back of a 2-0 victory away to Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday. They have already been crowned Bundesliga champions, having accumulated 81 points from 26 wins, three draws and two defeats.
Pep Guardiola’s side made it through to the Champions League knockout stages by pipping Manchester City to first in Group D with 15 points from five wins and one defeat. They defeated English opposition in both the round of 16 and the quarter finals, seeing off Arsenal by an aggregate score of 3-1 and Manchester United by an aggregate score of 4-2.
Guardiola demanded improvement from his players in the wake of the victory over Braunschweig, following a period of the season in which his side have slipped from their ultimate level. Their two league defeats have both occurred within the last month, while they struggled more than expected in dispatching Manchester United in the last eight.
Bayern do, however, remain formidable opponents. They possess a variety of goal threats – with Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Mario Goetze, Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Muller each having scored eight or more times in the Bundesliga – excellent passers, good defenders and in Manuel Neuer, a fine goalkeeper. Guardiola is himself a two-time Champions League winning coach.
Guardiola will definitely be without the injured Holger Badstuber (knee), Thiago Alcantara (knee) and Xherdan Shaqiri for this Champions League match. Neuer is expected to return to the starting lineup after missing the weekend victory with a calf injury, as is David Alaba, who was absent due to illness.
Real Madrid v Bayern Munich Betting Tips
Bayern defeated Real Madrid on penalties at the semi-final stage of the 2011-12 Champions League following a 3-3 aggregate draw and also hold the upper hand historically, with 11 wins to Real Madrid’s seven in the 20 previous meetings between the sides in European competition. Real Madrid were also defeated by German opposition in last year’s semi-final.
Real Madrid are well-rested and come into the first leg high on confidence following their Copa del Rey success. They certainly possess the necessary offensive weapons to cause problems for the Bayern defence, but concerns remain over their own defence’s ability to deal with the sort of swift and technical attacking play that is Bayern’s hallmark.
Guardiola would likely be content with a score draw in Madrid, a result that would allow his side to control the trajectory of the second leg from a position of supremacy. Real Madrid will, of course, want to take an advantage of their own into the return leg, but we believe a score draw is the most likely result.
- Back the draw @ 13/5 with Bet365, SkyBet or Betfair Sportsbook.
- 65.7% of Real Madrid’s and 66.6% of Bayern Munich’s goals in this year’s Champions League have been scored after half time and we would expect to see a relatively cautious opening in this Champions League match. Therefore, back the second half to be the highest scoring half @ best odds of 11/10 with BetVictor.