Expectations were high for many going into Wednesday’s Champions League first-leg clash between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
By calculations, Bayern who were already crowned champions of Germany for an astonishing sixth successive season had enough firepower that should see them churn out any manner of victory over Los Blancos.
That wasn’t the case at the Allianz Arena where Real seized the initiative; heading back to Spain with a ‘healthy’ 2-1 advantage.
It wasn’t that Real Madrid played better than the Bavarians who will blame themselves for not burying the numerous chances that came their way and gifting their opponents the two goals which seems
to give them the edge to make the final.
With the loads of surprises that has characterized this year’s Champions League; especially the latter stages, it is not out of place to still give Jupp Heynkeces men some fighting chance to make it to Kyiv for the final.
The immediate inspiration will be form
Juventus who were beaten in Turin but almost turned the tables at Santiago Bernebeau where they had done enough; scoring the required three goals that would have seen the tie extend to extra time but were denied the chance; owing to a late penalty awarded and converted by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Ahead of the second leg on Tuesday, Colombian midfielder, James Rodriguez who is facing an emotional return to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu but he is focusing on getting a positive result.
"All matches in the Bernabeu are tough," he intimated. "We must be focused in that match. Furthermore, we have to take advantage of any opportunities we get."
their current situation well enough after having faced the same result in a quarter-final first leg against Madrid last season.
In that tie, the Bavarians managed to push the tie into extra time, only to have Madrid score
three times in the added 30 minutes to earn a spot in the semi-final.
And Bayern's players are confident that they can still turn the tie around at the Bernabeu.
"There are two games, so we are not out yet, even if the starting situation is not good but very bad," Kimmich said. "Nevertheless, everything is possible in football, that's why many people watch football. We want to make it possible
Another reason for optimism will be the inner workings knowledge of Heynckes, who led Los Blancos to European glory in 1997/98, and is to date the only German coach in the Spanish club's storied history.
Accordingly, few Germans know quite as well how to best Madrid in Europe – as Heynckes has already done once in 2012 when he led Bayern past Los Merengues on penalties in the semi-finals (having played the first leg at home).
Remarkably, Heynckes has never
not reached the Champions League final as a coach – Bayern's 2012 defeat to Chelsea was his second; the Bavarians' win against Dortmund the following year the third – a run that began when in charge of Madrid back in 1998.
While he might be gunning to eliminate them this year, the veteran tactician remains assured of his place in Real history after guiding the club past Juventus in the 1998
final for a seventh European Cup, and first in 32 years.