Real Madrid are preparing for the semi-finals of the Champions League for the fourth year in a row and, against Bayern Munich, they have a special incentive to end their three year run of exiting the competition at this stage. In 2011 Los Blancos were dumped out by Barcelona, then managed by current Bayern boss Pep Guardiola, while in 2012 it was the German giants that beat them on penalties in the last four.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men saw off last year’s beaten finalists Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals, yet face a much sterner test against Bayern, the current holders of the big-eared trophy. Guardiola’s side have already romped to the Bundesliga title and have lost just three times in all competitions this season. Despite being held by Manchester United in the first leg of their quarter-final, Bayern comfortably progressed to the semis, winning 3-1 in the second leg in Munich.
Bayern are looking to become the first side to retain the Champions League since its rebranding, while Real Madrid are hoping to end an obsession that has lasted over a decade; winning a tenth European Cup. The German champions welcome back Bastien Schweinsteiger from suspension, whereas Real Madrid will be buoyed by the return of Cristiano Ronaldo to their starting line-up.
KICK-OFF: Wednesday, 7.45pm
Real Madrid 2 (Ronaldo 2) Bayern Munich 1 (Robben), Champions League semi-finals, April 2012 (Bayern win 3-1 on penalties)
Bayern Munich 2 (Ribery, Gomez) Real Madrid 1 (Ozil), Champions League, semi-finals, April 2012
Bayern Munich 2 (Makaay, Lucio) Real Madrid 1 (van Nistelrooy), Champions League, semi-finals, March 2007 (Bayern win on away goals)
Real Madrid 3 (Raul 2, van Nistelrooy) Bayern Munich 2 (Lucio, van Bommel), Champions League, semi-finals February 2007
A guide to the Champions League semi-finalists
A guide to the Champions League semi-finalists
1/4 REAL MADRID
Best: Winners (1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1998, 2000, 2002)
Star man: Cristiano Ronaldo
Manager: Carlo Ancelotti – has won the league in England, France and Italy, as well as the Champions League twice with Milan, and is now expected to deliver ‘la decima’ – Real Madrid’s tenth European title
Top scorer: Cristiano Ronaldo (14)
Top assist: Karim Benzema/Angel Di Maria (both 5)
Overview: After sailing through the group stages unbeaten, and then dispatching Schalke 9-2 in the last 16, Real Madrid were the form team in the tournament until their scare against Dortmund. The 2-0 defeat in Germany, albeit without their talisman Ronaldo, has revealed a chink in the armour, but you still wouldn’t want to draw them.
Best: Winners (2012)
Star man: Eden Hazard
Manager: Jose Mourinho – The ‘Special One’ is looking to become the first manager to win the competition with three different teams having succeeded at Porto and Inter
Top scorer: Samuel Eto’o/Demba Ba/Fernando Torres (all 3)
Top assist: Oscar (4)
Overview: Despite losing twice to unfancied Basel, Chelsea topped their group and saw off the tricky task of Galatasaray in the last 16. Needed a last minute goal to scrape past PSG in the quarter-final, and will go into the semi-finals as underdogs – as they did in 2012.
3/4 BAYERN MUNICH
Best: Winners (1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013)
Star man: Franck Ribery
Manager: Pep Guardiola – in his first season at Barcelona he won a treble that included the Champions League, and he’s on course to do the same in his first season at Bayern. If he does it his place among the greats will no longer be in doubt.
Top scorer: Thomas Muller (5)
Top assist: Arjen Robben/Phillip Lahm (both 3)
Overview: Aside from a defeat at home to Manchester City, by which stage qualification was already secured, Bayern have been almost perfect, blowing away Arsenal and Manchester United in the knock-out stages. Favourites to become the first team in the Champions League era to retain the title.
4/4 ATLETICO MADRID
Best: Runners-up (1974)
Star man: Diego Costa
Manager: Diego Simeone – the only manager left who was at his club last season, Simeone has built a team performing beyond the resources of Atletico, with a real shot at a first Spanish title since 1996.
Top scorer: Diego Costa (7)
Top assist: Gabi (4)
Overview: Atletico are the only unbeaten team left in the competition, and having seen off Milan and Barcelona they deserve their place in the semi-finals. They may be the only team left never to have won a European title, but they can no longer be considered underdogs, and everyone will want to avoid them.
Real Madrid are unbeaten in 17 Champions League home matches, dating back to April 2011 when Guardiola's Barcelona won 2-0 in the first leg of an eventual 3-1 aggregate semi-final win for the Catalans
Madrid are trying to avoid a third successive semi-final loss to German opposition. Bayern, on the other hand, can complete a hat-trick of wins over Spanish clubs at this stage.
Bayern are unbeaten in their last ten away games in the competition dating back to a 3-1 loss to FC BATE Borisov in October 2012.
The two clubs have met in five European Cup semi-finals with Bayern winning in 1976, 1987, 2001 and 2012; Madrid's sole win came in 2000.
Madrid had to overcome Bayern en route to their two most recent European Cup conquests, beating them by the same 3-2 aggregate score in the 2000 semi-finals and 2002 quarter-finals.
Real Madrid to win: 2.4
Bayern Munich to win: 3.0
TV: Live on Sky Sports 1 at 7.45pm