Champions League: Bayern Munich plot revenge against Real Madrid in semifinal | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 24.04.2018
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Champions League: Bayern Munich plot revenge against Real Madrid in semifinal

Defeat at the hands of the Spanish club in last year's quarterfinal still stings and vengeance will be top of the agenda when the sides meet on Wednesday. Win, and a second treble is within touching distance for Bayern.

"It's a new season, a new year. What happened last year is in the past," insisted Robert Lewandowski ahead of Wednesday's semifinal showdown in Munich. "It's not on our minds," he added of last year's defeat. It was almost believable, too. 

Champions League semifinals don't come much bigger than this. Bayern Munich and Real Madrid have hoisted this trophy a combined 17 times, reached the final on 25 occasions and know the winner of this encounter will be considered the favorite in the final, regardless of whther it's Liverpool or Roma they face. 

Read more: Jürgen Klopp hopes Anfield roar helps Liverpool revive past glories against Roma

Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes during a press conference, April 10, 2018. (picture-alliance/dpa/S. Hoppe)

Heynckes said he was 'very optimistic' about the clash, saying that 'willpower can move mountains'

The reappointment of coach Jupp Heynckes at Bayern has inspired an unexpected bid for a second treble in the club's history, while Real are looking to win the title for a third successive season, an unprecedented feat in the Champions League era. For both, the prospect of champagne-soaked celebrations lies tantalizingly within reach. For one team, however, the events of last season's quarterfinal loom just as large. 

Going out in the latter stages of the Champions League is never a good feeling, one imagines, but last season's exit rankled Bayern's fans more than usual. Two red cards and two goals from offside positions played their part as Bayern were swept aside by a rampant Cristiano Ronaldo over two legs. Ever the pantomime villain, the Portugese shrugged off protests as his second-leg hat-trick buried Carlo Ancelotti's team. It was Real's sixth successive victory against the Bavarians. Revenge is very much in demand in Munich. 

Champions League Real Madrid vs FC Bayern Munich (picture alliance/dpa/AA/B. Akbulut)

Ronaldo celebrates scoring against Bayern in last year's quarterfinal

The stage is set for a thrilling encounter, with both sides close to full strength. Manuel Neuer's lengthy absence aside, only Arturo Vidal is missing from Bayern's first choice XI. Fans may even be furtively relieved to see him sidelined with a knee injury, such is his propensity to get sent off on these occasions. It was his dismissal, late in the quarterfinal second-leg last season, that opened the gates to an extra-time goal flurry that sent Real through to the last four.

Real, meanwhile, are fit and firing to a man. Zinedine Zidane, who was still yet to take on his first senior coaching role when Heynckes stepped down as Bayern coach after winning this competion in 2013, can call on a complete squad after Gareth Bale's return to action this earlier month. Such is the talent at his disposal, the Wales international is likely to miss out, with Isco in scintillating form for Los Blancos.

James Rodriguez, an unused substitute for Real Madrid when these sides last met, will be planning his own revenge. Deemed surplus to requiremenets at the Santiago Bernabeu, the Colombian is on loan at Bayern and will be keen to show why he deserved more opportunities in Spain. He's flourished in Germany, adding goals and creativity to Bayern's midfield on their march to a sixth successive title. 

Fußball Bundesliga Bayer Leverkusen - Bayern München - Tor 1:3 (Reuters/W. Rattay)

James Rodriguez has been key to Bayern's title winning season

Key to stopping Real, of course, will be whether or not Bayern's defense can shackle Ronaldo. The forward may have turned 33 this year, but his record in this competition speaks for itself. He remains the competition's all-time leading scorer with 121 goals from 156 appearances. He'll get chances, but if Sven Ulreich can keep him out, Bayern will fancy their chances of reaching a first final since that fond farewell with Heynckes five years ago.

It's safe to assume football fans in Turin, 600 kilometers away, will be rooting for a home victory when the teams walk out at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night. Real's 4-3 aggregate victory over Juventus in the quarterfinal was settled thanks to a late, highly contentious penalty decision.

It's too late for Juventus, but, for Bayern, the time to lay the past to rest and take a huge step towards another historic treble is upon them. As well as a ticket to the final, Real revenge is up for grabs en route.

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