Bayern Munich’s treble charge continues against European champions Real Madrid on Wednesday, with Jupp Heynckes’ side welcoming Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. to the Allianz Arena for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final clash.
Bayern come into the match in high spirits, with a sixth consecutive Bundesliga title already sealed. The Bavarians’ 6-2 destruction of Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB Cup semi-finals last Tuesday means the treble is still very much on – something the club achieved during Heynckes’ previous tenure at the club, in the 2012/13 season. James Rodriguez will be tasked with providing the ammunition for Robert Lewandowski against his parent club, Real, though Bayern are just shy of being at full-strength: the world’s best goalkeeper Manuel Neuer returned to training with the first-team on Friday after missing the last six months with a fractured metatarsal, but the clash against Madrid will come too soon for him; Arturo Vidal’s season is over, the Chilean requiring knee surgery after an injury at Säbener Straße.
Real are only third in La Liga, with arch domestic rivals Barcelona just one win away from sealing the title. Los Merengues needed an 87th-minute equaliser from Ronaldo to hold Athletic Bilbao on Wednesday, though they will have had a full week to prepare for Bayern with no matches this weekend. Coach Zinedine Zidane also said recently that the Spaniards will defend their title “to the death”. They will do so with a largely clean bill of health. Defender Nacho has a muscle strain but might have been on the bench anyway. Toni Kroos – part of that treble-winning team at Bayern under Heynkes five years ago – will partner Luka Modric and Casemiro in midfield.
Watch: Every single one of James’ Bundesliga goals and assists to date!
Bayern: Ulreich – Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba – Martinez, Thiago – Robben, Müller (c), James – Lewandowski
Absentees: Neuer (foot), Vidal (knee), Coman (ankle)
Coach: Jupp Heynckes
Real: Navas – Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo – Modric, Casemiro, Kroos – Isco – Benzema, Ronaldo
Absentees: Nacho (muscle strain)
Coach: Zinedine Zidane
James won the Champions League with Real in each of the past two seasons. Victory with Bayern would make him just the fifth player to win the competition with two different clubs in consecutive years, after Marcel Desailly, Paulo Sousa, Gerard Pique and Samuel Eto’o.
Heynckes has reached the final in all three of his Champions League campaigns, winning the competition twice: with Real in 1998 and Bayern in 2013.
As well as James and Heynckes, Arjen Robben and Kroos will be up against their former clubs.
Thomas Müller is three games away from his 100th Champions League appearance with Bayern. Only Philipp Lahm (105) and Oliver Kahn (103) have passed their century to date.
In 24 previous head-to-head meetings, Bayern have won 12, Real 10, with the teams drawing twice. The German champions have won four of their last six semi-finals against their Spanish counterparts.
Ronaldo is the top scorer in the season’s competition with 15 goals, 10 more than Lewandowski. Both men are tied on 38 goals in all competitions in 2017/18, though.