Joel Omotto in Munich @omottojoel
German giants Bayern Munich are confident of overturning a two-goal deficit against Real Madrid today to reach the Champions League final for the first time in five years.
The Bavarian giants paid a heavy price for missing clear cut chances against Los Blancos at Allianz Arena last Wednesday, allowing Marcelo and Marco Asensio to cancel out Joshua Kimmic’s early opener and take a huge advantage to the Bernabeu for today’s return leg.
Only twice in UEFA Champions League history have a team overhauled a first-leg home defeat to win the tie, and Bayern have painful memories of the more recent case having been beaten by inter Milan in the 2010/11 round of 16 (1-0 away, 2-3 home).
That followed Ajax Amsterdam’s loss to Panathinaikos in the 1995/96 semi-finals (0-1 home, 3-0 away). But it is the scorer of Bayern’s goal during the first leg, Kimmic who believes they have more than enough to overhaul the deficit and deny Madrid a chance to reach a third straight final.
“We showed it last year that we can come from two goals down and all we need to do is to take our opportunities. We had so many chances but failed to utilize them last week and we cannot make the same mistakes again,” said Kimmich after Saturday’s 4-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga.
Bayern’s Champions League dreams have ended in the semi-finals in the hands of Spanish teams in the last four years, having been eliminated by Barcelona in 2013 and 2015, Madrid in 2014 and Atletico Madrid last season and they are hoping that lightning will not strike five times this year.
“We believe we are a better team than them and if we play well we can beat them at their stadium,” added Kimmich. Victory against Frankfurt was the perfect preparation for the clash in Spain although Bayern boss Jupp Hynckes (pictured) gave a rest to most of his star players.
Only Kimmich, Mats Hummels, Sven Ulreich, Corentin Tolisso and Juan Bernat among the first team regulars who featured for the team at the weekend, with Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara starting on the bench while Thomas Mueller, Robert Lewandowski and James Rodriguez did not feature.
The teams met in last season’s quarter-finals and it was Madrid, en route to becoming the first team to retain the trophy in the UEFA Champions League era and claiming a 12th European title overall, who came out on top.
Zinédine Zidane’s side won, as now, 2-1 in Munich and then 4-2 in Madrid after extra time to progress to the last four. Hynckes will hope that Lewandowski will have his shooting boots on after the Polish striker missed a number of clear cut chances against Madrid last week.
The veteran tactician will also have to find a way of stopping free-scoring Cristiano Ronaldo who was among nine first team stars rested by Zidane for Saturday’s 2-1 win over Leganes.
Ronaldo was not on target on Tuesday for the first time in the Champions League this season but Bayern players know he is the man to stop out if they have to keep Madrid at bay. -AFP