Tomorrow the draw for this season’s Champions League semi-final takes place, and Real Madrid’s potential opponents are Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Juventus. Of course at this stage, no team is an easy team and every opponent is a potential champion, yet the question will always present it self in these kinds of situation: “who do you prefer?” I posed that question to myself, and the answer, quite quickly too, was Bayern. Now a sane person would say why on earth would you prefer Bayern with all of the pedigree they have and the history they carry alongside the wealth of star power they poses? The answer is simple, because we are Real Madrid.
Last season, Real were going through a bit of a rough patch while Bayern were dominating everyone in sight when these 2 teams got drawn against each other. Real were actually the underdogs for a match, which is something that rarely happens to the Whites, yet when push came to shove, Ancelotti’s men delivered big time. With a smart plan Ancelotti kept Bayern at bay in both legs, managing to shut Pep’s team out for the full 180 minutes, while scoring 5 goals against them in the process. It just so happens that Real’s 4-4-2 when employed especially for counter attacking purposes are hugely effective and can cause severe damage to possession-based teams. Real basically stayed in their own half for much of the 2 legs last season while countering in an absurd speed against a Bayern side who were tired from trying to find gaps in the impenetrable Real defence.
Real’s current football reminds me of the team in this stage last season, as they seem to have peaked defensively at the right time. It is interesting to point out that Real Madrid have kept seven clean sheets in their last eight Champions League matches. They are currently the side with the most clean sheets in the competition this season. In all competitions, Real have also conceded just one goal in their last 5 matches, with 4 clean sheets being kept. So it does appear that Real have the proper tools for a Bayern side that will come out with a plan basically every coach in Europe knows, boss the possession and look for gaps.
I think facing Bayern Munich would provide Real Madrid with the best chance of progressing to their second consecutive final, because against Barcelona over two legs, emotions will undoubtedly run high and tactics can be thrown out the window in a second’s notice (like in the last Clasico). While Juventus boast one of the most solid defences in Europe and that can prove lethal in knock-out ties, especially as Ancelotti’s men seem to panic when they can’t find a proper gap to create a chance. While Bayern would be the most offensive team of the lot no matter who they faced, which as mentioned earlier, can be the golden opportunity that the Whites saw and ceased last season on their way to La Decima. In the end, no matter which teams gets drawn against the reigning European champions, the quest to continue achieving records should provide the proper boost as the 23 men currently on the squad look to became part of the first team in history to defend it’s Champions League title.