Real Madrid may not be having their best La Liga season, according to their own standards; but the Spanish giants continue to thrive on the Champions League stage. Bookmakers have installed Real Madrid as the favourites to win the tournament, and based on their performances so far, the choice is well warranted.
Real Madrid came back from a goal down against Germany’s Bayern Munich in their Champions League first leg semifinal on Wednesday night, 2-1. Going down a goal in the first 30 minutes didn’t bother Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo and company. The reigning Champions League winners scored two goals in a 13-minute time span and held on to a slim lead to defeat the already crowned German champions. It helped that Bayern weren’t up to their typical standards as the side looked sloppy throughout much of the 90 minutes.
Los Blancos now face Bayern in the second leg at home knowing the Germans need at least two goals to go through. Those two goals must come without Real Madrid scoring, which seems like an almost impossible task at the moment.
Bayern are facing injury problems that have suddenly hit the club at exactly the wrong time. Although the club has already won the Bundesliga title, this weekend sees Bayern up against rivals Eintracht Frankfurt. The match is a preview of May’s German Cup final, and Frankfurt are fighting for qualification to the Europa League through the domestic competition. Frankfurt won’t be an easy task, and it is expected that Bayern will play a B-team against them in hopes of getting first team players fit.
Against Real Madrid, Bayern lost winger Arjen Robben, centre-back Jerome Boateng and defender Javi Martinez to injury. All three left Wednesday night’s match early and join the club’s current injury list occupied by midfielder Arturo Vidal and winger Kingsley Coman. Martinez is expected to return from the concussion he was diagnosed with, but the club will keep tabs on him up until match time. Robben could return from his leg injury and will be rested. However, Boateng is expected to miss several games due to his latest thigh injury.
Boateng has been the glue at the heart of Bayern’s defence. Without the German international, Bayern will be susceptible. The clubs is already missing goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who has missed the entire season with a knee injury. Depending on how Bayern’s match at the weekend against Frankfurt goes, the German champions could be a patchwork side on Tuesday night at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, go into the fixture having won the first leg without Ronaldo scoring. In fact, Ronaldo was a non-factor for the most part as Real Madrid found a way to win without their star player pulling them through. It is doubtful Ronaldo will have a repeat performance and Bayern will need as many healthy first team players available for selection to stop Los Blancos.
The Spanish club did suffer two injuries during the game as Dani Carvajal and Isco were forced off. Real Madrid’s injury list is not as substantial as Bayern’s; but Zinedine Zidane will hope both can play in the return leg.