Madrid wary of Champs League home setbacks in Bayern visit

ABS-CBN Sports on May 01, 2018 09:25 AM
Madrid wary of Champs League home setbacks in Bayern visit
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo works out with teammates during a training session at the team's Valdebebas training ground in Madrid, Monday, April 30, 2018. Real Madrid will play a Champions League semi final second leg soccer match with Bayern Munich on Tuesday, May 1. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press

MADRID (AP) — Despite a 2-1 victory at Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals, Real Madrid is worried.

Madrid hosts Bayern in the second leg on Tuesday, but the European champion has struggled in decisive matches at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and is wary of more surprises.

"We have to think about the good things that we did in the first leg in Munich and learn from the match against Juventus at home," said backup Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, referring to the 3-1 loss in the quarterfinals.

"If we put all that together and stay focused, we can make history by reaching another final."

Against Juventus, Madrid won 3-0 in Italy in the first leg. There was a festive atmosphere for the second leg, which was supposed to be a mere formality. But Madrid was surprised by Juventus, conceding twice in the first half and once after halftime. The 12-time champions escaped an embarrassing home elimination thanks only to a controversial late penalty by Cristiano Ronaldo.

"What we have to do is go out and try to win the match," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "That's going to be our goal. We are not going to think too much about anything else. We will try to score as quickly as possible and win the match."

Madrid also relinquished its lead against Bayern in the quarterfinals last season, when it also won 2-1 in Munich in the first leg.

A week later, Bayern sent the match into extra time. Ronaldo, who got both goals in the first leg and one in regulation in the second, scored twice in extra time to complete a hat trick and save Madrid from elimination.

"I don't know how significant the first-leg advantage will be. We know what happened against Juventus and against Bayern last year," Zidane said. "We will need a huge performance. We will need to play like never before this year to be able to advance. We are prepared and we are going to give it all we've got to make it to the final."

Sloppy defense was key to those struggles by Madrid at home. Madrid didn't play poorly but couldn't stop its opponents on the few chances they created. Against Juventus, all three goals came when the Madrid defense failed to clear routine crosses into the area.

Bayern paid attention to Madrid's recent struggles.

"Real Madrid has shown that it can be vulnerable even when playing at home," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said through a translator. "They are not invincible despite what many people may think."

The defense could be a problem for Madrid again on Tuesday as right back Dani Carvajal is out injured and Zidane has few options to replace him. Youngster Achraf Hakimi is Carvajal's immediate substitute but he has not impressed.

Nacho Fernandez, a central defender who has played at right back on other occasions, is coming off an injury and it's not clear if he will be fully fit to play.

Zidane said he may consider using forward Lucas Vazquez in defense, as he did after Carvajal had to leave the first leg because of his injury.

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who used to play as a right back, could also end up on the flank.

"It could be an option," Ramos said. "I can adapt. It wouldn't be a problem for me."

Madrid is also certain to be without midfielder Isco, who did not recover from a shoulder sprain sustained in the first leg in Germany.

Madrid is trying to win a third straight European title, and fourth in five seasons. The last team to reach three straight finals was Juventus from 1996-98.

Bayern, a five-time European champion, is looking to return to the final after four seasons.

"We need to be more efficient than in the first leg," Heynckes said. "We have scored lots of goals all season and I hope we can show the efficiency that usually characterizes our game."

Latest News