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PREVIEW | Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich – UEFA Champions League semi-final

After losing 2-1 in last week’s first leg, Bayern Munich travel to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid on Tuesday evening to try to turn the tie on its head. Despite Joshua Kimmich’s goal putting Bayern ahead, goals from Marcelo and Marco Asensio gave the Champions League winners of the last two season’s victory in Bavaria.

The result at the Allianz Arena, and the fact that they have conceded two away goals means that they face an uphill battle to qualify for their first Champions League final since 2013, when they lifted the trophy at Wembley. With their sixth successive Bundesliga title already sewn up, Jupp Heynckes opted to rest several key players in their 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, in order to give Bayern Munich the best opportunity to reach the final in Kiev on 26 May.

Jerome Boateng who sustained an injury during the first leg, will definitely miss the game and indeed faces a race against time to be fit for the World Cup finals in Russia this summer. Long-term absentee Manuel Neuer also remains out as do midfielders Arturo Vidal and Kingsley Coman. Journalist Christian Falk, who has close links with Bayern Munich, has also reported that Arjen Robben will miss the tie after picking up an injury during the first-leg.

Better news for die Roten is that left-back David Alaba is expected to return to the team, and if he does so will be at the expense of Rafinha. Niklas Süle who replaced Boateng is expected to partner Mats Hummels in central defence.

The hosts Real Madrid are looking to win their third successive Champions League title and a fourth title in five years. Los Merengues have struggled domestically this season, currently sitting in third place in La Liga behind both Barcelona and city-rivals Atletico Madrid. Winning this year’s Champions League could well be the only way in which coach Zinedine Zidane can hang on to his job.

Like Bayern Munich, Real Madrid rested players in their 2-1 weekend win over Leganes, most notably Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane and star-man Cristiano Ronaldo. They will all return to the team in the second leg. Daniel Carvajal and Isco both picked up knocks in the victory over Bayern and are doubtful for the return fixture.

Whilst progression for Bayern will be difficult, they will take heart from the way in which Juventus ran them incredibly close in the quarter finals. In a clash between two of European football’s biggest clubs, it will be intriguing to see who will emerge triumphant.

By Jonathan Shelley.

 

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