Bayern need to get back in form against Real Madrid | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 16.04.2012
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Bayern need to get back in form against Real Madrid

Having conceded the Bundesliga title to Dortmund, it's all the more important for Bayern Munich to progress in the Champions League. There's only one obstacle: mighty Real Madrid.

The plan this season was for Bayern Munich to have wrapped up the German title by now and focus all their energy on the Champions League, the final of which is being held in their home stadium.

As things have turned out, they must now focus on how to beat the best team in Spain - while the Bavarians are only second-best in Germany.

At times Bayern have played inspired football, dishing out some serious beatings to bottom-half Bundesliga sides. But against the better teams in Germany, most prominently Dortmund and Mönchengladbach, Munich have come up seriously short.

In the past, Bayern squads have usually risen to the occasion when facing the international creme-de-la-creme. But going into the home leg of their semifinal against Real on Tuesday, there's reason to doubt that this team will be up to the job.

Limits reached?

Arjen Robben of Bayern Munich reacts after missing a penalty against Borussia Dortmund

Robben hasn't been his old self lately

Bayern's game is tailored to feature the team's two standout wingers, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. On a good day, either one is capable of blowing through opposing defenses and creating something special.

What they're not particularly used to doing, however, is tracking back and winning the ball. Both the Dutchman and his French counterpart are at their best receiving passes while moving forward.

Against Real, whose squad includes not just superstar Cristiano Ronaldo but German national lynchpin Mesut Özil, Bayern cannot assume they will have the majority of possession, as they do in virtually all of their Bundesliga matches.

Moreover, although Ribery is having a fine season, the oft-injured Robben has been out of sorts lately - blowing both a penalty and a sitter in the Dortmund match last week that essentially decided the Bundesliga title race.

If they are to get past Real, Bayern are going to have to hope that the Dutchman can recover mentally from that epic fail.

Strength at the back

Bayern Munich's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer catches a ball

Neuer can keep Bayern in contention against Madrid

Yet Bayern do indeed have a chance against the Spanish giants. First, Real's focus is divided since the Galaticos only have a four-point lead on arch-rivals Barcelona in La Liga.

And Munich will want to exploit what has been its greatest strength this season. Lost among all the disappointment over Bayern's domestic slip-ups is the fact that they have shored up their backline, conceding only 20 goals in 31 matches in Germany.

Keeper Manuel Neuer seems finally to have adjusted to Bayern's style and was world-class in the loss to Dortmund.

If he comes up big on Tuesday, it is easy to imagine Real's big guns getting frustrated, and the team opening up at the back.

Owing to the away-goals rule, a scoreless draw would be a fine result on Tuesday. And getting past one of the top club's in the world to qualify for the final in Munich's Allianz Arena would go a long way toward easing the pain of Bayern's botched domestic campaign.

But for the moment, that is just another hypothetical.

Author: Jefferson Chase
Editor: Simon Bone

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