Champions League: Bayern promises 'fireworks' vs Atletico
ABS-CBN Sports on May 02, 2016 11:22 AM
Atletico Madrid's Antoine Griezmann kicks the ball as he celebrates after scoring the opening goal against Rayo Vallecano during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Atletico and Rayo Vallecano at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Saturday, April 30, 2016. Griezmann scored once in Atletico's 1-0 victory. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
CIARAN FAHEY, Associated Press
BERLIN (AP) — Thomas Mueller has promised "fireworks" as Bayern Munich seeks to overturn a 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid and reach the Champions League final, where Real Madrid or Manchester City await.
Five-time champion Bayern could go out to Spanish opposition at the semifinal stage for the third straight season, after defeats to Real Madrid and Barcelona in 2014 and 2015.
Saul Niguez' brilliant strike in the first leg in Spain is the difference between the sides. Another Bayern fightback in front of 70,000 fans is expected Tuesday, with Pep Guardiola's side counting on the spirit that helped it recover from 2-0 down against Juventus to win 4-2 after extra time earlier in the campaign.
Guardiola still hopes to lead Bayern to the treble and match the feat of his predecessor Jupp Heynckes in his last season before he leaves for City.
City could yet meet its future coach in the final if it completes the job against Madrid on Wednesday. After a scoreless first leg in Manchester, Manuel Pellegrini's side knows a score-draw will be enough to reach the final for the first time.
Here is a closer look at this week's Champions League matches:
BAYERN MUNICH-ATLETICO MADRID
Bayern missed the chance to clinch its fourth successive Bundesliga title on Saturday, when it was clear that thoughts were already on Atletico's visit.
With the league title all but certain to arrive sooner or later, Guardiola decided to rest Xabi Alonso, Javi Martinez, Philipp Lahm, David Alaba, Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantara, Douglas Costa and Robert Lewandowski in the 1-1 draw against Borussia Moenchengladbach.
"Tuesday's match is going to be different, we have to play better then," Guardiola said.
Since losing the 2014 semifinal to Madrid, Bayern has won all 11 Champions League games at home.
However, Bayern has been made to sweat in the Champions League this season, leaving it very late against Juventus and scraping past Benfica 3-2 on aggregate.
"The assurance has suffered a bit the last few weeks," Mueller said. "We stand together well as a team but it's no longer as easy as it was."
Most fans were surprised to see Mueller starting the first leg in Madrid on the bench. The 26-year-old scored his 20th league goal of the season Saturday, bringing his tally across all competitions to 32, and it was his injury-time goal that forced extra time against Juventus.
If Bayern had trouble breaking through Atletico's defense in Madrid, it will now have to deal with the addition of Diego Godin to the Spanish team's backline. Godin, a key player for Atletico, and winger Yannick Carrasco were both cleared to play on Sunday after recovering from injuries.
Coach Diego Simeone also rested most of his first-choice players over the weekend, starting only four players from his lineup that beat Bayern. Atletico won 1-0 against Rayo Vallecano to stay level on points with league leader Barcelona.
REAL MADRID-MANCHESTER CITY
The big question for 10-time winner Madrid is the same as before: Will Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema be fit to face City?
The two forwards, who lead Madrid with a combined 74 goals this season, are both nursing right-leg injuries. Ronaldo has missed Madrid's last three matches, including the draw at City that Benzema left early after aggravating his hamstring.
Coach Zinedine Zidane is hopeful he will have them back.
"In my head I want them and we think that they'll be ready," Zidane said after Saturday's 1-0 win at Real Sociedad.
With both Ronaldo and Benzema sidelined, attack partner Gareth Bale has risen to the occasion by scoring late winners both at Sociedad and in the last round at Rayo to keep Madrid in the Spanish league title hunt.
"It will be a very intense game and I hope that with the help of our fans we can move forward," Bale said.
City heads to Spain after a 4-2 loss on Sunday to Southampton, when Pellegrini rested key players, including Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne and Vincent Kompany.
And City has its own injury concerns, with David Silva out with a hamstring injury sustained in the first leg. Yaya Toure, however, could be available again after a hamstring injury.
"We are not afraid to go away to the Bernabeu," said Pellegrini.
Steve Douglas in Manchester, England, and Joseph Wilson in Barcelona, Spain, contributed to this report.