Bayern Munich hopes home field can be the key to its first win over Real Madrid in six tries.
The German powers have lost five-straight UEFA Champions League encounters against Real heading into Wednesday’s semifinal first leg at the Allianz Arena (2:45 p.m. ET kickoff).
Real knocked Bayern out of the 2013-14 and 2016-17 UCL, with Bayern eliminated Real in penalty kicks during the semifinal round of 2011-12.
All told, this is the 12th time Real and Bayern have met on the road to the European Cup.
It was the quarterfinal stage last season that saw Cristiano Ronaldo score five times over two legs including both goals in a 2-1 first leg win in Germany. He also scored twice against the Bavarians in 2013-14, and twice in 2011-12 (though he missed the first penalty of the semifinal shootout).
Real’s German midfielder, Toni Kroos, is quite wary of the superpowers from his home nation:
“I’ve been playing alongside a lot of Bayern players for many years now in the national team, but if you look at Bayern’s possible line-up, you can see that they have a lot of very good players. They’re in better shape than they were last year and we’ve got to go out and play our game.”
Real boss Zinedine Zidane knows there’s a juicy subplot with James Rodriguez on loan at Bayern and very much enjoying his football, but says it’s media-driven and nothing on the mind of Zizou or James.
“I didn’t want James to go, he decided to go. I never had any problem with James and it’s more about what is said in the press,” Zidane said, according to Goal.com. “I think he will be motivated because he is a football player. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. Anyone that thinks I am against James is wrong. He will want to go out and prove himself but because he likes football and that’s it.”
Rodriguez has six goals and 12 assists across 34 appearances for Bayern this season, though just one assist has come in the UCL.
Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes says James’ exit from Real might’ve been desired but it wasn’t easy for the player.
“He was a little depressed,” Heynckes said. “I took care of him, I had lots of talks with him, and step by step he found confidence. He is more relaxed within the team. Our fans here, when they see him play football, they enjoy it. Above all he is a player who has fantasy, has an overview. He is more open-minded and gives the impression he feels well and has settled in Munich.”