Wednesday, April 25 – 8:45p.m Local time – Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
The bout between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid unequivocally promises to be the most mouth-watering clash of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League campaign.
The reigning European champions will be the first ones on the road, as they make the trip to Munich for the first leg of the semi-final, before the reverse fixture takes place in a week’s time in the Spanish capital.
Real prepared for the encounter in typical Madrid fashion as they, not for the first time this season, dropped vital points against a La Liga side they shouldn’t have any problems breezing past.
Playing against the lowly Athletic Bilbao should have been a convenient shooting practice ahead of a pivotal European night, but the Los Blancos trailed most of the match and could have had a catastrophic result, had Cristiano Ronaldo not equalized towards the tail end of the match.
The hosts were starring down the barrel of a second successive home defeat, having been unable to find a reply to an early goal for much of the match, until Cristiano Ronaldo rescued a point for his side with a flick, three minutes before the end of normal time.
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The result means Real Madrid are still rooted in third on 68 points from 33 games, four points behind their cross city rivals Atletico Madrid in second, albeit with a game in hand, and a telltale 15 points to make up on leaders and probable champions, Barcelona.
Whereas Real Madrid has struggled in the domestic League, Bayern Munich has exceeded and excelled in the Bundsliga. The Bavarians tied up the league at the beginning of April when a 4-1 win away to Augsburg saw them secure a dynastic sixth consecutive Bundesliga title, and 27th overall.
What’s more, their quest for a historic treble is still on the cards, as the German champions booked their ticket in the DFB Cup final to be played against Eintracht Frankfurt in May, on top of their campaign on the continental stage.
Despite already wrapping up the Bundesliga title, Bayern was characteristically upbeat in the second half as they ran comfortable 3-0 winners away to Hannover on Saturday. Jupp Heynckes, having rested key players ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League encounter, was obliged to turn to the bench after a flat performance in the opening 45 minutes.
Hannover may have been swayed to think they had matters in control after making it to the break on equal footing, but Bayern once again proved why they are poles apart from every other team in the German top flight.
Thomas Muller came off the bench right after the restart to flag off the onslaught with a goal via a deflection in the 57th minute, as the newly crowned champions showed little sign of respite.
Robert Lewandowski, who likewise began the day on the bench, doubled the advantage for the visitors in the 73rd minute with a towering header, as he connected with Sebastian Rudy’s corner.
At this point in the match it was exhibition stuff by the visitors, who assuredly sent the tie petering out with a third and final goal through Rudy.
It would have made a world of sense for Bayern to just go for the draw seeing as the League was already secured, but Jupp Heynckes isn’t one to play with him handbrakes on.
Real Madrid believe the Champions League title is their rightful crown, and will go to the ends of the Earth to ensure the European prize returns back to the Bernabeu for a record 13th time.
The holders will for certain have a strong starting eleven, with Nacho being the only injured player in Zinedine Zidane’s camp.
It’s a given that Bayern will revert back to their strongest available line-up, having rested the regular likes of Javi Martinez, Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich, Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski over the weekend.
The hosts will nonetheless be without Kingsley Coman and their number one goalkeeper Manuel Neuer due to injury, while Arturo Vidal will also be sorely missed after sustaining a knee injury while in training a week ago.
Cristiano Ronaldo odds and specials
|Best Bet||Odds||Bet Now|
|Ronaldo to score anytime||$1.85 at WilliamHill||Place Bet|
|Ronaldo to score anytime/Madrid to win||$4.20 at WilliamHill||Place Bet|
If Cristiano Ronaldo was to retire today he would still be regarded as one of the best, if not the best, goal scorer the modern game has ever seen. At 33, the Portuguese international is seemingly aging like fine wine, ever bettering on his valiant conversion rate in front of goal.
Despite having a glittering career for both club and county, the forward continues to play an instrumental role for his side in the game, often lacing up boots better than footballers in their formative years — despite the argument that he is already past his prime.
The theory holds true to some degree, as Ronaldo neither runs amok at defenders nor streams forward for the entire length of the match, but his 42 goals in 39 games across all competitions this season is emblematic of just how the forward has a high affinity for goals.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored nine goals against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, the most number of times he has found the back of the net against a single opponent in the competition, and as such looked poised to strengthen his claim to the fact once again.
Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid match prediction
Of the two semi-finalists, Real Madrid have had the most to overcome on their way to last four. The 12-time European champions brushed off Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 with a 5-2 aggregate win, but needed a last gasp Cristiano Ronaldo winner against Juventus to book a place in the semis; advancing 4-3 on aggregate.
Conversely, Bayern Munich made light work of Turkish side Besiktas in the last 16 with an 8-1 aggregate triumph; whereas a 2-1 victory away to Sevilla was all they needed to advance into the semis, following a barren draw in the second leg.
Madrid may have their goal scoring gem, but so do Bayern. Robert Lewandowski’s goal over the weekend- his 33rd of the campaign- took his tally to 105 league goals scored in Bayern Munich colors, becoming the top scorer among foreigner players, in regards to the number of goals scored for a single Bundesliga club.
Even though both sides will employ concerted efforts not to concede, it’s hard to stop goals from flowing in at this stage of the competition.
Prediction: Both teams to score – -200 on William Hill
Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid recent results
Real Madrid 4-2 Bayern Munich (April 18, 2017)
Cristiano Ronaldo 76′, 104′, 109′
Marco Asensio 112′
Robert Lewandowski 53′ (P)
Sergio Ramos 77′ (OG)
Bayern Munich 1-2 Real Madrid (April 12, 2017)
Arturo Vidal 25′
Cristiano Ronaldo 47′, 77′
Bayern Munich 0-4 Real Madrid (April 29, 2014)
Sergio Ramos 16′, 20′
Cristiano Ronaldo 34′, 89′
Real Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich (April 23, 2014)
Karim Benzema 29′
Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich (April 25, 2012)
Cristiano Ronaldo 5′ (P), 15′
Arjen Robben 27 (P)
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