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Showdown in Madrid as ‘galvanised’ Real host Bayern
MADRID: Real Madrid host Bayern Munich at their Santiago Bernabeu stadium on Tuesday “galvanised” by the prospect of a third consecutive Champions League final.
Zinedine Zidane´s Spanish swashbucklers carry a 2-1 lead into this semi-final second leg against German guests who require “cool heads and hot hearts” according to Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
“Of course it galvanises us, it´s an extra motivation. What drives this club is to try to do the maximum, all of us, to regret nothing,” Real boss Zidane said.
With their two precious away goals in Munich last week Real are expected to go through and, for many, are heavy favourites to win a 13th continental crown after already beating Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus in the knock-out stages.
Captain Sergio Ramos suggested Real Madrid “make what is practically impossible seem easy. No one else has won two in a row” (in the modern Champions League era).
“What motivates us is to keep breaking records and winning titles,” the defender added.
— Real Madrid C.F.???? (@realmadriden) May 1, 2018
For Zidane, a third European crown as coach would put him level with Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley in the pantheon of successful managers.
Only the three triumphs of Paisley, however, came at one club, Liverpool, and over a single era, in 1977, 1978 and 1981. Ancelotti´s treble stretched across 11 years, with two clubs, Real and AC Milan.
But Zidane´s merits as a coach and tactician continue to be downplayed, at least in part because the 1998 French World Cup winning skipper owns arguably the most talented squad in the world and, in Cristiano Ronaldo, the Champions League´s greatest ever player.
´War not over´
Ronaldo´s 15 goals in this year´s competition have certainly been key, but it was Zidane who made the brave call to leave out Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema at the Allianz Arena against Bayern.
The preferred but less established duo of Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio combined brilliantly for the winning goal, with the former also switched to right-back late on, where he held off the threat of Franck Ribery.
“When Zizou has to gamble, he does, because he is the boss,” Ramos said. “We are very happy that he is steering the boat.”
Ribery warned Real that despite last week´s reverse, Bayern would not go down without a fight.
“The battle is lost, but the war is not over,” the Frenchman wrote on Twitter, borrowing from the famous Charles de Gaulle quote. “We will get our chances in Madrid.”
As Bayern try to engineer an upset they can take inspiration from Juventus who went down fighting with a 3-1 win in Madrid in the quarter-finals after losing 3-0 in Turin, bowing out 4-3 on aggregate.
“Juve are a good example of putting pressure on Real in Madrid,” said Rummenigge.
“We need cool heads and hot hearts.”
The Santiago Bernabeu showdown kicks off at 1845 GMT with the winners set to face Liverpool in the May 26 final in Kiev. Jurgen Klopp´s men take a 5-2 lead into their second leg at Roma on Wednesday.