A sideways look at Spanish football
Let’s face it, Real Madrid have had a bit of cosy time of it in the Champions League so far this season.
Unlike the other Spanish sides to enter the competition, they haven't had to deal with testing tussles against the likes of Milan, Chelsea or Manchester City. Instead, José Mourinho’s men merely had to dispose of Dinamo Zagreb, Ajax and Lyon in the group stages and then CSKA Moscow and APOEL in the knock-out rounds. They could almost have done it with one hand behind their backs while humming a chirpy little ditty. Indeed, that’s how LLL imagines Kaká approaching every game he’s played in this season.
So the question being asked in Spain ahead of Tuesday's semi-final first leg trip to Germany is not just what will happen when Real Madrid come up against Bayern Munich - a team the Spanish side have traditionally struggled against having lost ten of their 18 meetings - but what will happen when the Spanish league leaders come up against a decent team, full stop.
One theory suggests the players may well have a few problems, as they have done in their last few meetings with Barcelona, and more recently in their draws against Valencia and Málaga in the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, on another day the chances created in both those matches would have gone in, Real Madrid would have an eight point lead at the top of the table and Bayern would be quivering in their Bavarian booties at the thought of the mighty Spanish side turning up on their doorstep. After all, just because Madrid haven’t had the chance to take on anyone tough the Champions League doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t beat them comfortably when they do.
Jose's habit of listening to JLS during press conferences went down badly
AS have billed Tuesday evening's fixture as “a night for the brave”, with a picture of Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas holding thumbs aloft, accompanied by an editorial fretting over the traditional dangers posed by Bayern Munich. “Bayern Munich is the only team in Europe where Real Madrid has a losing balance after facing them a sufficient number of times, not just occasionally.”
Marca’s front cover has a photograph of the view that faces the players when entering the Allianz Arena pitch in Munich with the headline, “stairway to glory” in big, shiny letters. Inside, the paper reports a confident José Mourinho claiming “I’ve spent a long time preparing for this game and I have everything clear.”
What was unusual about that statement was the fact that the Madrid manager was talking at all, considering the Portuguese has been keeping a happy silence over the past few weeks in la Liga, with Mourinho apparently unable to go a whole 10 minutes without complaining about refereeing decisions. “Today UEFA make me speak,” noted the former Chelsea manager.
The visiting coach was unable to stop himself when asked about Howard Webb, who is charge of Tuesday’s clash, and Mourinho seems quite satisfied with the appointment. “As aways, my players are going to help him and I hope everything goes well,” promised Mourinho with an admirably straight face.
Although LLL likes sitting on the fence as much as the next blog, it’s going to go for one of its comfortingly incorrect predictions and fall into the ‘just because they haven’t played anyone decent, it doesn’t mean that won’t beat anyone decent’ camp and go for a cheeky 2-1 away win, which would see Madrid put one foot in the final, and a return to Munich.
TACTICAL PREVIEW Michael Cox on Bayern v Real Madrid
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