Event: UEFA Champions League quarter final 2nd leg
Date: Tuesday, 18th April 2017
Kick Off: 7:45pm (Nigerian time)
Venue: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
An explosive showdown capable of putting the whole of Spain on lockdown is imminent here. This fixture tonight, is a sumptuous one no doubt. Real Madrid and Bayern Munich face off in the second leg of the quarterfinals and the elite European competition cannot ask for a bigger encounter than this.
A Cristiano Ronaldo brace saw Real Madrid earn a shock 2-1 win at the Allianz Arena after Arturo Vidal opened the scoring but then turned villain with an embarrassing penalty miss.
This blockbuster second leg beckons us and Bayern Munich received the best news possible with Robert Lewandowski all fit to lead the charge against the defending champions. Recall, he has a history with Los Blancos as he put four goals pass them in a game for Borussia Dortmund back in 2013.
Both teams also rested several of their first team starters in the weekend league games to ensure they are ready for tonight’s high-intensity bout.
However, the Los Blancos suffered a huge blow after Gareth Bale was ruled out of tonight’s clash with an ankle issue. He missed the game against Sporting Gijon and, sadly, is also expected to miss the much- awaited El Clasico.
After a match winning performance against Gijon, Isco is set to be named as his replacement. Central defenders Pepe and Raphael Varane are still out, which means the pair of Sergio Ramos and Nacho will start the second leg. Bayern Munich welcome Robert Lewandowski in the starting line-up with manager Carlo Ancelotti confirming that the Polish striker has trained with the team and will start up front for the Bavarians. Munich are also sweating on the fitness of Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng as both defenders are still doubtful for tonight’s clash and face a late fitness test. But if both of them miss out, Bayern Munich will have to play Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba as the central defenders. Javi Martinez is out of contention because of his red card in the first leg.
Meanwhile, coach Zinedine Zidane has warned his Real Madrid side’s Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich is not over, despite the 2-1 win away in Germany in the first leg.
“The first leg result is not definitive, so we need to play another great game. Bayern will play a great game, we know that. It’s going to be decided in small details and we have to be ready,” he said.
KEY STATISTICS TO BEAR IN MIND AS THE COUNTDOWN TICKS AWAY
-All five previous teams winning 2-1 away from home in the first leg of their Champions League knockout tie have progressed to the next round.
-This is the 24th European Cup/Champions League fixture between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid – the 18th under the Champions League era – a record in the history of the tournament.
-Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are perfectly level in their European Cup/Champions League knockout encounters, progressing five times each.
-Bayern Munich have lost eight of their last 10 away games against Real Madrid in all competitions (W2), including the last five. In fact, Bayern last beat Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in May 2001 thanks to a goal by Giovane Elber (1-0).
-Real Madrid have reached the semis in each of the previous 6 seasons. A seventh in a row would constitute a new record.
-Since 2010/11, Real Madrid have won 34 of their 40 Champions League games at Santiago Bernabeu (D4 L2). Their two defeats during that time came against Barcelona in April 2011 (0-2) and Schalke in March 2015 (3-4).
-Real Madrid have also never failed to score in their last 34 Champions League home games, longest ever run in the competition. Barcelona were the last team to leave the Bernabeu with a clean sheet (2-0 in April 2011).
-Real Madrid, alongside Juventus, are the only unbeaten team in this season’s Champions League (W6 D3). They have also only lost one of their last 11 knockout games (W7 D3), it was against Wolfsburg in April 2016 (0-2).
-Real Madrid have scored minimum two goals in each of their nine Champions League games this season. However, they have also failed to keep a single clean sheet in those nine games.
-Real Madrid have won all three of their knockout games in this season’s Champions League despite conceding the opening goal in each of them.
-Bayern Munich have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the sixth consecutive season. In fact, in each of the five previous campaigns, they’ve also systematically made it to the semis.
-None of Bayern Munich’s last 11 Champions League games has ended in a draw (W7 L4). The last one was against Benfica in April 2016 (2-2).
-Bayern Munich conceded 12 shots on target in the first leg against Real, more than in any other Champions League game since Opta analysis began on the competition in 2003/04.
-Bayern Munich have only kept one clean sheet in their last eight Champions League games.
-Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 100 goals in European competition, the first player to reach that landmark. In the knockout stages, he’s scored 0.72 goals per game (46 in 64 games), a better rate than in the group stages (0.71).
-Sergio Ramos’ last six goals in the Champions League have all been scored in the knockout stages. If he plays, it will be his 100th game in the competition.
-Robert Lewandowski has scored in each of his last three Champions League games (3 goals); he’s never done four in a row in the competition.
-Bayern Munich’s last three goals in the Champions League have all been scored by Arturo Vidal.
Zinedine Zidane (Real Madrid): “Bayern is a very good team in all the lines. We know they can harm the rival but they have also flaws, like all the teams. We’ll try to play our game and prepare well the game, like the first leg.”
Carlo Ancelotti (Bayern Munich): “Small details decided the first leg and we have to focus on those. We cannot afford to leave Cristiano (Ronaldo) alone. We have a smaller chance than in the first leg, but we can definitely win this. The first 60 minutes in the first leg were quite good, but we made too many mistakes after that.”
FORM GUIDE (all competitions, most recent first)
Real Madrid: WWDWWW
Bayern Munich: DLWLWW
VERDICT: Real Madrid come into this game after winning their last league game 3-2 against Sporting Gijon – a hard-fought one – whereas Bayern Munich drew 0-0 against their bogey team, Bayer Leverkusen. Understandably, both sides rested key players just for this cracker.
Statistics aren’t favouring the Bavarians here because they have lost eight out of the last 10 matches at the Santiago Bernabeu including the last five meetings, and, their last victory came back in 2001. On the other hand, Real Madrid have won the last 34 games out of 40 at the Bernabeu and have scored in each of their last 34 matches at home. These teams have played a record 17 times against one another in the Champions League era and both have progressed to the next stage of the knockout phase five times each.
Truth be said, had Javi Martinez not had the red card in the first leg, Madrid would most likely not have won it. Small details – as both coaches have emphasized in their pre-match statements – were key at the Allianz Arena and will also be in this one. For sure, Bayern are like wounded lions here, they are the ones chasing the game and will therefore be desperate. We know what they can do against any team in the world on their day. Good for them that their goal-machine, Lewandoski is returning for this one and gives them some hope as he was sorely missed in the first leg.
However, I worry for them because if defenders Hummels and Boateng fail to make it or at least one of them as seen last week, then it could be an uphill task stopping the rampaging Madrid attack on their own soil. Bale is out for Madrid but in Isco, they have a decent replacement. Indeed an opportunity for him to make a statement on the big stage. The first goal and how early it comes is gonna be crucial here.
I see a couple of goals between both sides in this one but Real Madrid not to lose and, consequently, will advance to the semis.
RECOMMENDED BETS: 1X, 1X & GG or GG & 2.5