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Spanish confidence

Real geared up for ‘fantastic match'

Cool, confident and determined were the adjectives that sprang to mind when Carlo Ancelotti and Gareth Bale faced the press at the Allianz Arena on Monday evening prior to Real Madrid’s pre-match training session. “We’ll try and enjoy it,” declared coach Ancelotti on the eve of his side’s Champions League last four meeting with Bayern, “we have the final in our sights. But if we are to make it we all have to work together. We have to join forces for the cause.“

There is no secret or mystery to Los Blancos’ deep yearning for a first appearance in the Champions League final for more than a decade, finally opening up the chance of claiming La Décima, a tenth European Cup/Champions League triumph in the club’s illustrious history. However, Real have fallen at the semi-final stage for the last three years in a row – and in order to progress this time they must overcome club world champions and Champions League holders FC Bayern.

The men from Munich are undoubtedly Real’s bogey team on the continental stage. In ten visits to the Bavarian capital in European competition the world-famous club have lost nine and secured just one draw. In its Monday edition Madrid sports paper Marca spoke of a “jinx” and described Munich as “a cursed city” for Real. Ancelotti and his men will not be put off by such superstitious talk, and with the 1–0 victory from the first leg a week ago under their belts, the Spaniards believe they have as good a chance as ever of making the final.

Quick transitions could be key

“We have plenty of confidence. There’s no reason we should doubt our ability to go through. We’re 100 percent up for it,” declared Bale. The Wales star, a late substitute in the first leg as he continued to recover from flu, is fully recovered and likely to start on the right flank this Tuesday. “It’ll be a fantastic match,” continued Bale. His boss is just as confident: “We have the quality to score goals, even here in Munich.“

However, there is no mistaking the Spaniards’ genuine respect for Bayern. “We have a minor advantage,” said Ancelotti, “but it will be very complicated. We’ve not won yet by any means, and we’re up against a great team.” The full-strength Real side will be set up for a repeat of last Wednesday’s game plan, seeking to counter-attack from a solid defensive platform. “I want to get my strikers into the action, so we need very quick transitions,” the Italian commented.

Ancelotti said he was not happy with the first 20 minutes of the match at the Bernabéu. “It would be very dangerous if we pull everyone back and play with so little ambition,“ he warned. However, in any all-or-nothing contest “the mental aspect is more important than the tactics,” the respected coach stated. “We need enormous powers of concentration and the players must be looking forward to the game.” Their boss showed them the way on Monday evening.