We look ahead to the second part of the heavyweight contest between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, who will be boosted by the return of star striker Robert Lewandowski from injury as they look to overturn a 2-1 deficit.
Bayern Munich’s hopes of overturning a 2-1 deficit from the quarterfinal first leg against Real Madrid rest on whether Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng will be fit.
Lewandowksi, whose absence was felt when Bayern slumped to defeat by Real, is back in training after suffering a shoulder injury against Borussia Dortmund last week. The Pole was suspended for Saturday’s Bundesliga stalemate at Leverkusen.
“We know how good a player Lewandowski is, he is a true No.9,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. That is a plus for Bayern [that he should return].”
Lewandowski has scored 38 goals in 40 appearances this season but Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro says they are wary of Bayern’s whole team, not just their center forward.
“Lewandowski is a quality player but it’s not all about him,” said Casemiro. “They’ve got a brilliant squad. We’ll need to be at our best and not just focused on one man.”
The striker should be joined by first choice defensive pair Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, but both face a race against time to be fit. Hummels has an ankle injury that kept him out of the first leg and Boateng missed the Leverkusen game with an adductor injury.
“There’ll be a test on Monday night,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said before the team departed for Madrid on Monday. “Everything went well on Sunday in training with Hummels and Boateng. Lewandowski was even training with the team. We have to wait. At the end of the day, we’re not so pessimistic.”
And with Javi Martinez suspended after his red card in the first leg, Carlo Ancelotti will be desperate for both players to be fit. If Hummels or Boateng don’t make it, and emergency defensive pairing of Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba could be required.
Bale absence will hamper Real
Real Madrid go into the second leg as clear favorites to progress, knowing that even a 1-0 defeat in the Spanish capital will see them through.
But Zidane’s side have been dealt a blow with the news that Gareth Bale will miss the return leg at the Bernabeu. The Welshman has a muscle injury in his right leg and Zidane, while wanting to bring him back, says he will not rush the star forward back to action. Zidane’s thinking is clearly influenced by El Clasico against Barcelona, on Sunday.
“He will not play because we don’t want to take any risks,” Zidane said on Monday. “He wants to come back, he has been working hard. Hopefully he will be back for the Clasico but it’s not certain yet. We will see how he progresses day by day.”
Spain attacking midfielder Isco, who scored twice, including a last minute winner, in Madrid’s 3-2 win over Sporting Gijon on Saturday, is likely to replace Bale – but Zidane was keep his cards close to his chest.
“That Isco has not played much time in the Champions League is just coincidence, there is nothing else,” Zidane said. “It looks tough for him, just 77 minutes, it’s not much. But we have many games, many competitions, and we will see tomorrow what will happen.”
Overcoming the odds
Only twice in Champions League history has a team overhauled a first-leg home defeat to win the tie. The second of those occasions was against Bayern, who let a first leg lead slip against Internazionale in 2010/11.
The odds are clearly against Bayern, but there is hope for them. An early goal would give Bayern the perfect platform to take the game to Real, who are unbeaten in Europe’s elite club competition this season. In fact, they’ve failed to win only once in their last 10 Champions League games – 2-2 at Borussia Dortmund in the group stage.
But Bayern midfielder Xabi Alonso, who will be playing his last ever Champions League game if Bayern go out, is confident that the Bundesliga leaders can turn it around against his former club.
“We are Bayern, we know how to do it,” Alonso told El Pais when he was asked his thoughts on a comeback.
“We know how competitive Real Madrid are going to be and I also know the Bernabeu in these qualifiers, and the atmosphere will be a great night.”
“With Madrid you can’t think too much about them because there is so much talent and they can score from anywhere. In addition to playing well, you have to be lucky and hope they don’t have their day.”
Bayern will be hoping luck is on their side on Tuesday evening.