UCL Semi-Final: Bayern Munich v Real Madrid Preview (First Leg)

Three soccer players, two wearing blue and one in red

Our football pundit previews the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final clash between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, which takes place on Wednesday the 25th of April 2018.

Zinedine Zidane will be pushing for his third straight UEFA Champions League final when his Real Madrid side face Bayern Munich. In his way, is Jupp Heynckes, a manager who got to the final in all three of his past Champions League campaigns.

The Bavarians have endured something of a Spanish curse in recent seasons, bowing out at the hands of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, then Real Madrid again in their last four attempts of reaching the final. This is the most played UEFA competition tie, with these sides meeting for the 25th time. Both Bayern and Madrid have won 11 apiece, so not only will the winner of both legs advance to the final, but will boast bragging rights in terms of head-to-head statistics.

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 UEFA Champions League Semi-Final | First Leg | Wednesday 25 April | Allianz Arena | 20:45

To Win (90 Mins)
Bayern Munich 9/10
Draw 26/10
Real Madrid 51/20

Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich, who I tipped to lift the competition at the start of the season, face the daunting task of battling it out with two-time consecutive winners, Real Madrid. Jupp Heynckes retired as a treble-winning boss at Bayern in 2013 and is on course to claim yet another treble as he prepares to bow out of Bavaria in style.

Reacting to the draw against Los Blancos, Heynckes said: "It's a cracking tie. A gigantic fixture. I have good memories of our treble season [in 2012/13]. We played against Juventus and Barcelona at home in the first legs. I hope that's a good omen."

Bayern also have James Rodriguez to call upon, who is eligible to play against his parent club, thriving in his first of a two-year loan spell at Bayern. James compliments a star-studded line-up, consisting of my opinion as the best centre-back pairing in world football in Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, as well as the likes of Arturo Vidal, Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski.

The Bavarians already have the German Bundesliga wrapped up, so Heynckes will have the opportunity of resting his players and getting them freshly prepared for their humdinger of a tie against the European champions.

Real Madrid
Real Madrid will fancy their chances of progressing to the next round after knocking their opponents out of the UEFA Champions League last season, as well as in the 2013/14 campaign. Los Blancos showed against Juventus in the last round that they will continue to fight – right until the final whistle – with Cristiano Ronaldo for an 11th consecutive time in Europe’s elite tournament.

Ronaldo has 15 goals this term and is on course to beat his own record of scoring 17 times in a Champions League campaign. The Portuguese superstar has shown that he is the man for the big occasion.

Wednesday’s encounter will also mark a return to Bayern Munich for Toni Kroos, who left the club in 2014 to become a Galactico. Kroos has formed a formidable midfield partnership alongside Luka Modric and Casemiro.

Sergio Ramos was suspended for the club’s second leg tie at home to Juve, meaning the Spanish no-nonsense defender will return to captain his side out of the tunnel.

Verdict: Bayern Munich (51/20)
Bayern have suffered defeats to Spanish opposition in the last four years of the Champions League, however, under the tutelage of Heynckes, the club are a different side compared to previous seasons. At the Allianz Arena, I do fancy the Bavarians to edge the first leg.

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