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'There are no favourites'

Ancelotti hopes for 'strong Real Madrid'

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La bestia negra is in town: the Black Beast landed on Spanish soil on Tuesday afternoon. FC Bayern have always earned the respect of other clubs and that is certainly the case in Madrid. Last season's triumphant march through the Champions League and the Club World Cup further increased the FCB’s glowing reputation. “Bayern are a great side. They have a lot of top players who know exactly how to handle games like this,” said Xabi Alonso ahead of the eagerly-awaited first leg of the semi-final between Real Madrid and Bayern, “we need to be on our toes.”

Madrid midfield maestro Alonso believes his team need to “play the perfect game” to beat Bayern as the Reds are “even more flexible” with Pep Guardiola at the helm. The Spain international also believes there are no favourites in this semi-final clash. “We're in good shape, highly motivated and well prepared. We've been in the semi-finals every time in the past few seasons – now we want to go a step further.”

Cristiano Ronaldo should be able to help with the attempt to make it to the Champions League final. The World Player of the Year has struggled with knee problems but has trained over the past few days. Ronaldo and the flu-affected Gareth Bale both completed the final pre-match training session. Coach Carlo Ancelotti is definitely not prepared to take any risks as “the semi-final will not be decided tomorrow but rather in Munich,” the Italian declared.

'Can't sit back'

Ancelotti appeared to be optimistic. It is clear to him that Bayern are “great opponents” but he knows his players have to stand up and be counted. “We'll see a strong Real Madrid side who will fight hard for at least 180 minutes.” The aim is to find the “right balance” between defence and attack. “We can't sit back,” demanded Ancelotti, who sees similarities between Bayern's approach and Barcelona's.

The Italian is encouraged by the fact he was never on the losing side against Bayern during his time at AC Milan. “The concept of the Black Beast isn't relevant in my case. I've always had good experiences with Bayern,” said Ancelotti before adding: “We’re very confident and are looking forward to the match. We want to do all we can to get to the final and bring the title back to Madrid.”