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This Tuesday, the electric atmosphere of Munich’s Allianz Arena will play host to an epic clash between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the first round of the Champions League semi-finals. In this clash of European giants, This is Beirut brings you a taste of the action.

The Last Cartridge

This season, Bayern Munich displayed all their talents, with Harry Kane sharper than ever in front of goal, with 40 goals to his name, including 7 in the UCL. For Thomas Tuchel and his troops, the Champions League remains the only trophy at stake, after Bayer Leverkusen snatched the Bundesliga title. The Bavarians have just one more chance to shine, but have to contend with the notable absences in attack of Gnabry and Musiala, and uncertainty surrounding Coman’s participation.

Bayern at a Disadvantage

“We need to keep a close eye on Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sané too. They are still in the recovery phase. We’ll all need a little patience,” explained Tuchel. He added, “There will be some last-minute decisions regarding their participation in the final training session.”

Leroy Sané, who suffered from pubalgia at the end of March, has been out for the last four league games, playing just one hour in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final in London against Arsenal, and almost all of the second leg in Munich. For his part, Jamal Musiala has also been ruled out for the last two Bundesliga games, in Berlin ten days ago against Union and last Saturday against Frankfurt.

Despite these obstacles, the mountain to climb seems immense, but not insurmountable.

Real Madrid on Unfamiliar Ground

Real Madrid remain the tournament favourites, but questions remain as they prepare to take to the pitch in Germany. The crucial question: Will the Merengues be mentally ready? After a penalty shoot-out victory over Manchester City, the White House has been shaken both physically and mentally. Injuries to Courtois and Alaba, as well as Carvajal’s suspension, have weakened the team. However, Ancelotti has an arsenal at his disposal, with Modric, Vinicius and Bellingham all ready for action. We’re in for a high-flying tactical clash.

The Centrepiece of the Meringues 

With ten seasons in Madrid, Germany’s Toni Kroos, faced with the emergence of young French talents Eduardo Camavinga and Aurélien Tchouaméni in midfield, adapted to his team’s needs and rediscovered all his brilliance.

In a posture reminiscent of a quarterback who orchestrates attacks in American football, he dominates the game with incomparable technical mastery, delivering precise passes both to his Brazilian team-mates Vinicius and Rodrygo, and to his full-backs Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal.

“His reading of the game, his peripheral vision and his ability to make quick decisions make him a true maestro on the pitch, capable of influencing the course of the match through his skill and tactical intelligence,” analyses Madrid newspaper Marca.

With his contract due to expire in June 2024, like his Croatian partner Luka Modric, Toni Kroos insists that he has not yet made up his mind about his future, claiming that the key to prolonging his career is to retain “the same passion for winning as we had ten years ago.”

As fate would have it, it is against Bayern, his former team where he won his first of five Champions Leagues in 2013, that Kroos will be looking to defy time… Perhaps to further enrich his already impressive trophy collection with a sixth Champions League, on a par with the Bavarian giants.

A Storied Past Between These Giants 

2000: The two teams met in the semi-finals. Real Madrid won the first leg 2-0, but Bayern Munich turned the tables by winning the second leg 2-1, leading to extra time. Real Madrid eventually won 3-2 on aggregate and qualified for the final.

2012: The teams met in the semi-finals. The first leg ended in a 2-2 draw at the Allianz Arena stadium. In the return match at the Bernabéu, Real Madrid won 2-1, qualifying for the final.

2017: The two teams met in the quarter-finals. Real Madrid won the first leg 2-1 at home, then Bayern Munich won the second leg 2-1, forcing extra time. In the end, Real Madrid prevailed 4-2 in extra time and progressed to the next round thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick.

2018: The two clubs met again in the semi-finals. The first leg ended in a 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice for Real Madrid. In the second leg, Bayern Munich won 2-1 at home, but Real Madrid qualified for the final thanks to their away victory.

2021: The teams met again in the quarter-finals. Real Madrid won the first leg 3-1 at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, with goals from Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio. In the second leg, Bayern Munich won 2-0, but Real Madrid qualified for the semi-finals thanks to their home victory.

Likely Line-Ups: 

Bayern Munich: Neuer – Davies – De Light – Dier – Kimmich – Laimer – Goretzka – Sané – Muller – Guerreiro – Kane.

Real Madrid: Lunin – Vasquez – Mendy – Rudiger – Tchouameni – Camavinga Kroos – Valverde – Bellingham – Rodrygo – Vinicius Jr.

Pre-match Press

Thomas Tuchel (Bayern coach) stated, “Playing Real is always a huge challenge. They’re the most successful team in Europe. We’ll have to be at our best to qualify, but I feel my squad is ready and determined.”

Carlo Ancelotti (Real coach) stated, “Bayern showed against Arsenal that they are a solid and talented team. Eliminating them will be no mean feat, but we have the experience and quality to do it. Carvajal’s absence is a blow, but we have the solutions to replace him.”