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Semi of the superlatives

Any Champions League clash between Bayern and Real Madrid rates as one of the top fixtures in world football, but Tuesday evening’s semi-final return at the Allianz Arena will be even bigger than every previous showdown between the German and Spanish giants. The sides face each other for the 16th time in the continent’s elite club competition - no other fixture has been contested more often. A total of 108 TV stations around the world will broadcast the match live, with only one country definitely not showing the encounter between Germany and Spain’s most successful clubs, namely North Korea. After the 2012 Champions League final between FCB and Chelsea, Tuesday’s match is “the biggest game we’ve ever had at the Allianz Arena,” Bayern media director Markus Hörwick announced on Monday.

Milestone for Munich

Tuesday evening’s Real Madrid clash has special significance for FC Bayern, and Germany’s biggest club will play their 400th match in Europe. Only Barcelona (431) and Real (468) have contested more games in UEFA club competitions. Of their 399 games to date Bayern have won 220, drawn 92 and lost 87.

Unbeaten record at home to Real

Real Madrid have not had much success at FC Bayern in the past. The teams have played each other ten times in Munich and FCB have won nine of those games, with Real mustering a solitary 1-1 draw. The past five Bayern wins have been 2-1 victories, although that result on Tuesday would not be good enough to see FCB through to the Champions League final in Lisbon after the 1-0 reverse in the first leg. FC Bayern have gone through to the next round in five out of six European ties after being a goal down from the first leg.

Real’s semi-final omen

Real Madrid have always gone on to win the Champions League when they have knocked out the holders. That has happened four times with FC Bayern being the victim at the quarter-final stage in 2001/02. And Real coach Carlo Ancelotti has yet to be beaten by FC Bayern: He has won five out of the seven duels and twice knocked FCB out of the competition with AC Milan.

Mandzukic at risk of ban

Mario Mandzukic is the only Bayern player on two yellow cards ahead of the Champions League semi-final second leg match against Real Madrid. The Croat striker would miss the final against the winner of the other semi-final between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea in Lisbon on 24 May if he gets booked in the showdown at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night. Real have three players who are only one card away from a ban: Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso and Asier Illarramendi.

Good chance of Euro final in Munich

The prospect of Munich being a venue for the final of the 2020 European Championship, to be played in 13 countries, is fifty-fifty at the moment. With Turkey dropping out, the Bavarian state capital is left to compete with Wembley Stadium to stage the two semi-finals and the final. UEFA will announce their decision on the EURO 2020 venues on 19 September. Alternatively, the DFB has also applied for Munich to stage three group games and a Round of 16 or quarter-final tie.

Quote of the day

“Philipp can play in ten different positions - but not in Manuel Neuer’s.”
(Pep Guardiola at the press conference ahead of the second leg against Real Madrid, commenting on Philipp Lahm’s versatility)

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