The master plan is almost complete for Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho. The only thing standing in his way to become the first manager to win three Champions League titles (with three different club) is German powerhouse Bayern Munich. The Bavarians won the first match in Munich 2-1 thanks to a late strike by Mario Gomez. A slight lead, but Madrid will be well aware that they only need a 1-0 win to progress to the final.
Madrid have a formidable record against Bayern at the Bernabeu. In nine games they have won six times, drawing one and only loosing twice to Bayern. This season at home in the Champions League they have scored an impressive 22 goals in five games conceding five goals. Madrid have also won all of their Champions League matches at the Bernabeu this season & will be confident of winning at home. They’ll also be coming off a moral boosting victory over bitter rivals Barcelona. That win puts Madrid in an almost certain position to win La Liga. Their first since 2007/08.
Mourinho played exactly the same lineup against Barcelona as he did against Bayern, so fatigue may be a factor on Wednesday. But he does have strength in depth in his squad. Both Kaka and Higuain started on the bench and may find themselves in the starting in the line up if Mourinho feels any of his players are tired. Yet the confidence that the squad must be feeling after finally beating Barca in their own back yard will have reenergised them. Cristiano Ronaldo especially had a look of relief and jubilation on his face after the El Classico victory, where he scored the winner. He will be out for more glory against Bayern.
Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes rested a number of players including stars Robben, Ribery and Gomez in their weekend 2-1 victory over Werder Bremen. Even with the victory Bayern have now lost the Bundesliga title to rivals Dortmund, so the Champions League now is their main focus. It has been report that stars Robben and Ribery were involved in an argument during the previous first leg match, which was said to be over the taking of a free kick. If this has any effect on team moral only time will tell. Ribery was reportedly fined over the incident and is said to have apologised for his actions.
The Germans will be hoping that they can keep Madrid scoreless for as long as they can and use the pace of their wide men to exploit Madrid on the break. Much will rely on their defense and their keeper Manuel Neuer. The German number one seems to have won over the section of Bayern Munich fans who took exception to his signing at the start of the season. Bayern have only lost one match with Neuer in goal in the Champions League, the 1-0 loss to FC Basel (Hans-Jörg Butt was in goal for the 2-0 loss to Man City). They will also look to restrict the space in midfield which they did so well in the first half of their last match with Madrid. Schweinsteiger, Kroos and Gustavo were able to isolate Real playmaker Ozil limiting the impact of Di Maria and Ronaldo.
The chance to cement his place in history will be driving Mourinho with a passion. He knows football immortality awaits him should they reach the final. The whole season now boils down to this point, do his troops have enough fuel in their tanks to get past their German rivals? Bayern Munich will know that they are not every bodies favorites to reach the final, but it wouldn’t be the first time a German side has defied the odds. With the final being played in Munich this year, the incentive for Bayern is huge. Nothing can be taken for granted going into this game. Victory doesn’t always come to the most deserving in football, football remembers the winners. On Wednesday night both these teams will be out to prove they’re winners.