Bayern Munich have lacked a focal point of late, with Robert Lewandowski sitting out their last two games. The striker returns on Tuesday but Bayern have other injury doubts as they look to overturn their first leg loss.Bayern Munich’s hopes of overturning a 2-1 deficit from the quarterfinal first leg against Real Madrid may well be determined by the recovery of some of their key men.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti confrimed on Monday that Robert Lewandowksi, whose absence was felt when Bayern slumped to defeat by Real, will be fit to re-take his place as Bayern’s spearhead in Madrid. The Pole was suspended for Saturday’s Bundesliga stalemate at Leverkusen.
The Italian boss is also confident that first choice center backs Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng should both be fit, particularly handy given Javi Martinez’ suspension after his first leg red card, but it’s Bayern’s number 9 whose fitness is the biggest boost.
“Lewandowski’s presence will help us,” Ancelotti said. “He’s an important player who scores a lot of goals for us and he gives us more confidence.”
Lewandowski has scored 38 goals in 40 appearances this season but Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro says they are wary of Bayern’s whole team, not just their center forward.
“Lewandowski is a quality player but it’s not all about him,” said Casemiro. “They’ve got a brilliant squad. We’ll need to be at our best and not just focused on one man.”
Despite their returning stars, Ancelotti knows that the German champions still have plenty to do against one of his former clubs.
“To try to win here we have to do the perfect game,” he said. “We will need to play with intensity, with courage, with personality. We will need to use all our quality.”
Bale absence will hamper Real
Real Madrid go into the second leg as clear favorites to progress, knowing that even a 1-0 defeat in the Spanish capital will see them through.
But Zidane’s side have been dealt a blow with the news that Gareth Bale will miss the return leg at the Bernabeu. The Welshman has a muscle injury in his right leg and Zidane, while wanting to bring him back, says he will not rush the star forward back to action. Zidane’s thinking is clearly influenced by El Clasico against Barcelona, on Sunday.
“He will not play because we don’t want to take any risks,” Zidane said on Monday. “He wants to come back, he has been working hard. Hopefully he will be back for the Clasico but it’s not certain yet. We will see how he progresses day by day.”
Spain attacking midfielder Isco, who scored twice, including a last minute winner, in Madrid’s 3-2 win over Sporting Gijon on Saturday, is likely to replace Bale – but Zidane was keep his cards close to his chest.
“That Isco has not played much time in the Champions League is just coincidence, there is nothing else,” Zidane said. “It looks tough for him, just 77 minutes, it’s not much. But we have many games, many competitions, and we will see tomorrow what will happen.”
Overcoming the odds
Only twice in Champions League history has a team overhauled a first-leg home defeat to win the tie. The second of those occasions was against Bayern, who let a first leg lead slip against Internazionale in 2010/11.
The odds are clearly against Bayern, but there is hope for them. An early goal would give Bayern the perfect platform to take the game to Real, who are unbeaten in Europe’s elite club competition this season. In fact, they’ve failed to win only once in their last 10 Champions League games – 2-2 at Borussia Dortmund in the group stage.
But Bayern midfielder Xabi Alonso, who will be playing his last ever Champions League game if Bayern go out, is confident that the Bundesliga leaders can turn it around against his former club.
“We are Bayern, we know how to do it,” Alonso told El Pais when he was asked his thoughts on a comeback.
“We know how competitive Real Madrid are going to be and I also know the Bernabeu in these qualifiers, and the atmosphere will be a great night.”
“With Madrid you can’t think too much about them because there is so much talent and they can score from anywhere. In addition to playing well, you have to be lucky and hope they don’t have their day.”
Bayern will be hoping luck is on their side on Tuesday evening.