Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry are Bayern Munich's main threats to Real Madrid's ambition
Tuesday 17 April 2012
As if reaching a European Cup final in their own stadium were not motivation enough, Bayern Munich will have countless reasons to want to end Real Madrid's European adventure at the Allianz Arena tonight.
Bad feeling that runs back through 18 meetings between the two sides including four Champions League semi-finals; general manager Uli Hoeness's harsh words for Spain's debt-laden clubs; and president Franz Beckenbauer's unflattering description of Jose Mourinho will all make for an uneasy atmosphere in the directors box. On the pitch the Bayern wingers – Arjen Robben, who Real sold, and Franck Ribéry who they tried and failed to sign – will be especially motivated.
Robben and Ribéry provide the biggest threat to Real, who have looked vulnerable in both full-back positions this season. The former Liverpool defender Alvaro Arbeloa will take care of Ribéry, with Fabio Coentrao most likely to play ahead of the more attack-orientated Marcelo to attend to Robben. But whoever is picked to start it is the one area where Bayern look to have more quality than the visitors.
Mourinho raised the temperature last night saying: "Beckenbauer, Kahn, Hoenness, Hitzfeld; they all say that they [Bayern] are the favourites and that we have a complex when it comes to playing them. We have only lost one Champions League game in 22 played and that game has a history."
He will be well aware of the threat posed by Robben, who was sold the season before he arrived. "If [Cristiano] Ronaldo comes then Robben has to go," the then Real Madrid sporting director, Jorge Valdano, said of the Dutchman who left in 2008. Robben went on to reach the European Cup final with Bayern the following year. "They have always been a very powerful club but now they have a great coach who knows how to play these big games," said the Dutchman of Mourinho, who was his manager at Chelsea.
Holding a less complimentary view of Mourinho is Beckenbauer, who said of the Portuguese last season: "He is a rude loutish man."
Hoeness reacted furiously at the advantage indebted Spanish teams enjoy in Europe. "We pay them millions of euros to get them out of the shit and their football clubs don't pay their taxes," was his response to the story that Spanish clubs owed €752m [£620m] to the domestic inland revenue.
Bayern Munich: NEUER, LAHM, BOATENG*, BADSTUBER, ALABA*, SCHWEINSTEIGER, GUSTAVO*, ROBBEN, MULLER*, RIBERY, GOMEZ
Real Madrid: CASILLAS, COENTRAO, RAMOS, PEPE, ARBELOA, RONALDO, ALONSO, OZIL, KHEDIRA, DI MARIA, BENZEMA
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