Champions League: Bayern Munich v Real Madrid

Bayern Munich v Real Madrid

Thursday April 13, 4:45am AEST

Bayern Munich

One of the reasons Carlo Ancelotti has been so successful in the Champions League (he has won it three times), is that he has an uncanny ability to get his sides to peak at the right time. He makes no apologies for not overtraining his charges, and he is very much of the belief that you shouldn’t micromanage players.

This relaxed, avuncular approach seems to be paying dividends at Bayern Munich. In Saturday’s latest edition of Der Klassiker against a depleted Borussia Dortmund, the German champions ruthlessly picked their opponents apart. Ancelotti’s side went 2-0 up inside ten minutes, and despite a brief rally from BVB, Bayern went on to beat them 4-1. Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso had complete control of midfield, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben netted a goal apiece as they once again proved age ain’t nothing but a number, and Robert Lewandowski took his tally to 46 goals in 45 games for club and country.

Bayern have won their last seven home games in all competitions, and in the Champions League they have won a record 16 home matches on the spin. That said, the Bavarian giants still have scars from their last knockout meeting with Real Madrid in this competition. Real won the first leg in Madrid 1-0, and then followed that up with a 4-0 hammering of Bayern in Munich. Ancelotti was in charge of Real that season, and he went on to lead them to a 10th European Cup win, an achievement that had evaded Los Merengues for so long. Now he hopes to knock his old club out.

Keeper Manuel Neuer and roaming forward Thomas Mueller should return after missing Der Klassiker because of injury. Lewandowski injured his shoulder at the weekend but should be fine to start. Mats Hummels injured an ankle in training, and is definitely out, so Javi Martinez and Jerome Boateng should start at centre-back.

Real Madrid

It shows how absurd a club Real Madrid can be that Zinedine Zidane has no clue whether he’ll be coach next season. He delivered the Champions League in his first season, his side are top of La Liga, and yet Zidane says he’s not daring to plan for the next campaign.

The Frenchman’s main goal is unquestionably to deliver a first league title since 2012, but helping Real become the first club to retain the Champions League trophy wouldn’t do him any harm either. Real finished second in their group after they were twice held to 2-2 draws by Borussia Dortmund, but they saw off a very dangerous Napoli side in the last 16, winning both legs 3-1.

Real haven’t lost a game since they went down 2-1 at Valencia back in February, and they have won seven out of nine games since then. They haven’t been beaten in a Champions League match since last season’s quarter-final, when they lost away to German opposition, going down 2-0 at Wolfsburg.

Despite recent criticism of the triumvirate of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale, all three are expected to start at the Allianz Arena. Dani Carvajal missed training on Monday, but should be fit.

Match Odds

Despite seeing in person at the weekend how effective Bayern can be at home, I must admit I am very surprised to see them trading at 1.81 to win this. Although Bayern are playing well, this will be a massive test for them, and Real are undoubtedly the best team they have faced this season.

Real have come up with some very creditable results on the road this season. They won 3-0 at Atletico in the first Madrid derby of the league season, they were seconds away from beating Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park, and they managed a 1-1 draw at Barcelona in El Clasico. This is a group of players who have massive experience, so the intimidating atmosphere at the Allianz Arena won’t really affect them. I’m laying Bayern at that price.

Over/Under 2.5 Goals

I was hoping Over 2.5 Goals would be a bit bigger than 1.65, because I do expect goals. Bayern have scored 39 times in their last ten matches at the Allianz Arena, and Real haven’t failed to score in a match in nearly a year. Over 3.5 Goals is tempting at 2.60, and has paid out in six of Real’s eight Champions League games this term.

To Score

Even by his standards, Lewandowski is having an amazing campaign, and he is the 1.84 favourite to find the net in 90 minutes. Arjen Robben was magnificent on Saturday against Dortmund, and is trading at 2.60.

Cristiano Ronaldo has seven goals in his last nine outings, and can never be discounted. He can be backed to score at 2.38.

Betting Strategy

LAY – Bayern Munich at 1.81

BACK – Over 3.5 Goals at 2.60

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