Real Madrid Sets New Record with 7 Straight Trips to Champions League Semifinals

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Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP/Getty Images

This is the headline we hope to read tonight at 10:30 CET, but we all know how tough it will be. I expect to suffer through all 90 minutes of this incredible match and it could go either way. One of the two teams will emerge with six victories over the other, as they are currently deadlocked at five in past Champions League showdowns. Only two teams have overturned first-leg home defeats since the Champions League began, putting the odds are slightly in our favor.

Bale is out, as usual, but our magician Isco can take his place and Marco Asensio seems to be another good option but Zizou decided to hide his cards and not reveal who his substitute will be. A fan poll showed Isco as the heavy favorite with 69% of votes to get that start (Asensio 11%, Vazquez 8%). Aside from Bale our starting eleven should be extremely fit as Zidane continued his policy of resting players in Liga matches.

Cristiano has been well rested in recent weeks. The past few years he has limped to the finish line with nagging injuries and decreasing performance. This year he seems to accept giving up some personal glory (less matches, less goals) to have a better shot at the team trophies and longevity. A Liga Champions double would certaintly be more worthwhile than another Golden Ball and 3 Champions League trophies at Real Madrid for Cristiano would be historic, at the level of Raul and other RM greats.

Lewandowski is back for Bayern, a threat we didn’t have to deal with in the first leg. This could spell trouble for the less experienced Nacho. Pepe will be sorely missed. We will, however, have an opportunity to take advantage of Bayern’s depleated defense.  Central defenders Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng are both struggling with injuries and Javi Martinez is out for this match after seeing red in the first leg.

“We’re Bayern Munich, we know how to win.” Stated Xabi in the presser, who will be back to the Bernabeu after leaving 3 years ago, alongside Carlo Ancelotti. The fans will surely applaud Ancelotti, but what about Xabi? Are they still sore about his last minute departure to Bayern? We’ll find out!

Tonight I can’t  see a Real Madrid loss, I’m expecting a counter-intuitive hard fought 1-1 draw with several chances for both sides.

Possible lineup: Keylor Navas, Daniel Carvajal, Nacho, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Isco; Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

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