WATCH Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid: Preview, Live Stream, TV Info for UCL Match
Bayern Munich will be out for revenge when they host holders Real Madrid in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday.
Real beat the Bundesliga giants at the quarter-final stage last season, wining 6-3 on aggregate, including a 2-1 victory in Munich. Cristiano Ronaldo was the inspiration for Real, scoring six times in both games.
Ronaldo is once again in free-scoring form in this competition, netting three times during the dramatic 4-3 aggregate win over Juventus in the last eight. However, Bayern are a different animal this year, with the squad revived under the watch of familiar manager Jupp Heynckes, who returned to replace Carlo Ancelotti back in October.
Date: Wednesday, April 25
Time: 7:45 p.m. BST/2:45 p.m. ET
TV Info: BT Sport 2. Fox Sports 1.
Live Stream: BT Sport App. Fox Soccer MatchPass. fubo Premier.
Bayern have been in rampant form of late, wrapping up the Bundesliga title with room to spare, along with booking a place in the DFB-Pokal final.
Goals have been numerous, with Die Roten recently hitting six past Bayer Leverkusen in the cup semi-final. They also smashed four to seal the title against Augsburg.
Bayern’s big players stayed in the goals during Saturday’s win over Hannover, per the Champions League on Twitter:
Strikers Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller are both in peak form, with the former scoring 40 times in all competitions, while the latter has added 15 goals of his own.
Both Muller and Lewandowski have responded well to Heynckes, who won this tournament with Bayern back in 2013. While Heynckes knows he has the firepower to stop Real from winning the trophy for a third time in a row, the 72-year-old will be concerned about his defence.
Specifically, Heynckes needs to protect second-string goalkeeper Sven Ulreich. The sub stopper has been playing while Manuel Neuer continues to recover from a foot injury.
Ulreich has done brilliant work filling in for the injured Neuer.TF-Images/Getty Images
Muller was full of praise for Ulreich after his performance against Leverkusen, telling Sky Sports Deutschland (h/t Goal’s Ryan Benson):
“There was a phase in which the game was open. Then Ulle [Ulreich] was on the spot twice.
“He’s been in great form and has often been dubbed Player of the Year, as he often keeps us in the game. He does things that are not part of the average goalkeeper’s ABC, so you have to say thank you.”
Ulreich will face a tougher test trying to subdue Ronaldo, who is on yet another fine scoring run. The 33-year-old powerhouse forward has found the net in 12 consecutive matches for the first time in his career.
More troubling from a Bayern point of view is how much Ronaldo has enjoyed punishing Die Roten down the years:
Heynckes will rely on holding midfielder Javi Martinez to shield the back four and cut off the supply to Ronaldo. It will require smothering former Bayern playmaker Toni Kroos.
Meanwhile, Real boss Zinedine Zidane has a big call to make about who to start alongside his attacking talisman. He could continue with Isco or Marco Asensio partnering Ronaldo and Karim Benzema up top or he could hand a rare start to Gareth Bale.
The Welshman’s pace and aerial power would cause problems for Bayern.
Breaking a recent jinx against Los Blancos will be on the minds of Heynckes and his players—Die Roten were also knocked out by Real in the semi-final in 2000, the last eight in 2002 and the semi-final in 2014.