European Giants Clash In Madrid

Picture: AFP/heraldsun.com.au
Cristiano Ronaldo may return from injury to face Bayern on Thursday. Picture: AFP/heraldsun.com.au

Real Madrid  welcome defending champions Bayern Munich  to the Bernabeau on Thursday morning (AEST) in the first-leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final.

Bayern have been the dominant force in Europe over the past few years and they will be looking to reach their third consecutive Champions League final. Having wrapped up the Bundesliga title with 11 games to spare, the German giants will have this semi-final in their focus. Bayern saw off a spirited Manchester United in the quarter-finals 4-2 on aggregate to book their spot in the last four, and they hold a good record at the Bernabeau. Bayern have left the Spanish capital empty-handed twice in 10 visits. Inspirational skipper Bastian Schweinsteiger missed the tie against Manchester United through suspension, but he will return for the Germans on Thursday.

Real will look to make the most of their home advantage, but have some injury concerns to deal with. Cristiano Ronaldo missed Real’s Copa Del Rey final with a knee injury but is back in training in a race against time to prove his fitness. Summer signing Gareth Bale has been struck with the flu and hasn’t trained with the side all week, casting major doubt ahead of Thursday morning’s match. The loss of the Welshman could be crucial; Bale can win games for Real and in a tight match where goals will come at a premium he will be a big loss.

Regardless of the inclusions of Bale and Ronaldo, expect this game to be a close contest. Real can’t afford to lose at home to Bayern knowing how tough the Allianz Arena is to play at. A draw  looks to be good value in this match.  

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