Ten years ago Real Madrid and Bayern Munich met in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. The German side won the first leg 2-1 Allianz Arena only to be beaten 2-0 in the return leg at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid went on to win the competition that year, lifting their record-setting ninth European crown and their third in a space of four years.
That was the last time the Los Merengues tasted success in Europe. Until this year?
Having lost the first leg 2-1 at the Allianz Arena last week, Real will tonight attempt to overturn that deficit on their own ground. Just as they did a decade ago. With the La Liga title all but secured thanks to victory over Barcelona on Saturday, Jose Mourinho’s side will be even more bullish than usual.
Real may not have Zinedine Zidane to provide the inspiration but in Cristiano Ronaldo (27) they have a most able replacement. He may not be the best player in the world but being the second best player in the world ain’t too shabby.
Ronaldo has an incredible 54 goals in 50 games for Real this season. Since arriving from Manchester United for £80 million in June 2009, the Portuguese star has scored 140 goals in 139 games. Most importantly for tonight’s game he happens to be bang on form right now.
Whilst Lionel Messi (24) has started to flag at just the wrong time for Barcelona, Ronaldo looks to be at the peak of his powers. Having scored the winner against Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Saturday, it’s difficult to imagine him not having a telling influence on tonight’s game.
If he scores the first goal, which he’s 3/1 to do, Paddy Power will refund losing bets on first/last goalscorer, correct score and scorecast bets.
It’s not all about Ronaldo and Real though. Bayern have one or two decent players themselves.
Arjen Robben (28) and Frack Ribery (29) possess the attacking quality to cause any side problems. Mario Gomez (26) is having the best goalscoring season of his career with an impressive 40 goals in 47 games so far. Notably with Barcelona and Messi knocked out, Gomez is the top remaining goalscorer in this season’s Champions League with 12 goals.
This is a more even contest than last night’s game was deemed to be before the kick-off. Real Madrid are by no means guaranteed to qualify for the final simply because they have home advantage or Cristiano Ronaldo or the record number of European titles.
However, when you add Jose Mourinho in to the mix, a manager who has won the Champions League with both Porto and Inter Milan, the scales tip noticeably in the Spanish side’s favour.
Currently they are odds on at 8/15 to win the game and are odds on at 4/6 to qualify to face Chelsea in the final. As last night’s game proved the pre-match odds can be made a mockery by unforeseen events during the game.
However the key difference between Real and Barcelona is their star performers. Messi has looked tired in recent weeks. Ronaldo has looked mercurial. Will we see the next FIFA Ballon d’Or go to Madrid? Will the Champions League trophy be there waiting?