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Bayern v Real Madrid: The Titans of Europe are at it again

Bayern Munich

Bayern v Real Madrid: The Titans of Europe are at it again

Treble winners Bayern Munich are seeking to become the first club to defend the Champions League title. However, the Bavarians are the only team to have conceded a goal in the first leg of the semifinals losing 1-0 to Real Madrid last week. Pep Guardiola suggested that his team maintained possession to avoid getting crushed by Madrid’s powerful attackers, but it didn’t exactly work out as Madrid won 1-0 and had better opportunities in the game.

Real did defend very well against Bayern Munich, maintaining a good defence and closing out space, but the majority of the possession from the Germans was in front of the defensive line which gave the back four not too much to worry about. What needs to happen is a change in tempo for the Bavarians if they look to get past Madrid to get to the final. Real neutralized Bayern’s passing game perfectly, making it easy for Los Blancos to put a lot of effort between the ball and the goal due to the lack of threat coming from Bayern’s flanks.

What will Bayern have to change on Tuesday to turn his team towards the final? Well, take for instance where Madrid scored their goal from – the right side. This is arguably Bayern’s weak spot because Lahm is being played in the midfield. The Bavarians struggled with Madrid’s lightning pace on the counter-attack and Lahm could have possibly made a difference there.

It also comes down to the fact that Madrid defend in large numbers. To counteract this, young and vibrant players like Thomas Müller and Mario Götze could play outside the box and worm their way into tight spaces. Bayern’s best chance did come from Götze towards the end of the game and Guardiola may want to consider starting him or even Müller up front as opposed to Mandzukic on Tuesday.

Another itching question is whether it was necessary to have both Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the starting line-up. Madrid’s defensive disposition called for a player who could break through a herd of defenders, not just able to pass the ball outside the box. If Guardiola were to start Lahm at right-back, it could affect the rest of the line-up. Should the Spaniard start Lahm in defence, he could either go with naming Javi Martinez, Kroos and Schweinsteiger in the middle or drop one of the three and start Götze or Müller.

 

To take over Thiago’s place in central midfield, the Bavarians will need a penetrative midfielder that will help the team not only keep the ball moving, but also break Madrid’s strong back line. In Madrid’s case, however, they will solely need to do what they did in Madrid last week if they look to make it to the final- and that is to defend. Los Blancos can’t go all-out attack of course; Bayern’s constant control and dominance won’t let them.

While the first instinct might not be to commit too many men forward, that’s probably what Real should do. Swarm those spaces on the counter and snatch away a goal. Los Blancos cannot afford to just sit back, play defensively and hope to protect their lead, because the Bavarians will surely shock them on Tuesday because they know what’s at stake. This game will solely be focused on Guardiola’s tactical decision, and Bayern’s way to find their groove again.

Prediction:
Bayern 1-0 Madrid and Bayern win in penalty kicks.

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