Bayern, Madrid renew European rivalry in semifinal

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 22, 2014 at 11:23 am •  Published: April 22, 2014
Advertisement
;

MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid and Bayern Munich renew their storied European rivalry in the Champions League on Wednesday, with the Bundesliga champion dominating their history.

The first-leg semifinal at Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium marks the 20th time the clubs will meet in the continent's top competition, and marks Bayern coach Pep Guardiola's first return to Spain since leaving Barcelona.

Nine-time champion Madrid, coming off its Copa del Rey triumph over Barcelona, is looking to end a run of three straight semifinal exits to reach its first final since 2002.

The clubs have met in five European Cup semifinals with titleholder Bayern winning four of those, including when it ousted Madrid two seasons ago on penalties.

Here are five things to know ahead of the opening match:

___

RONALDO, BALE SET: Cristiano Ronaldo's return against Bayern will be a game-time decision after he completed a full training session on Monday for the first time since hurting his left leg. Ronaldo, tied for the Champions League record of 14 goals in one season, was nursing a sore knee before the muscle injury sidelined him for four games. "If there is any risk of aggravating the injury tomorrow, he won't play," Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said on Tuesday. "The decisive game of this tie is (the return) next Tuesday so we don't want to risk him." Gareth Bale, meanwhile, missed Monday's training due to flu but should be available. His late winner in the 2-1 Copa del Rey final win over Barcelona delivered Madrid its first silverware this season. "He's good, confident like the rest of the team," Ancelotti said. "To score a goal like he did against Barcelona in the final, it's normal that it improves his confidence."

BAYERN INJURIES: Manuel Neuer should be fit to line up in the Bayern goal after recovering from a calf injury. The Germany goalkeeper missed the German Cup semifinal win over Kaiserslautern and the 2-0 league win at Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday but returned to running exercises last Thursday. "I feel quite good. I presume I'll be able to play," said Neuer, who trained over the weekend, as did injured defenders David Alaba and Diego Contento. Neuer's deputy, Tom Starke (elbow), and Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara (knee) are out. "Every player is important," midfielder Javi Martinez said. "Counters will be key, as they are so fast on the counterattack. This is something we will have to be wary of tomorrow."