'Bayern are here to have a great game'
Holders Real Madrid are banking on the Bernabéu and Cristiano Ronaldo in the fight for a berth in the Champions League final in Kyiv. The Spanish record champions aim to win against FC Bayern on Tuesday evening and make it to the final of Europe's elite club competition for the third time in a row.
"It's very special to play at the Bernabéu, it's a historic venue," declared captain Sergio Ramos on the eve of Real's 250th Champions League match: "We have the chance of making it to the final again, it's extra motivation for us. We know what that means. We're one step away from the stadium in Kyiv," added Ramos.
Coach Zinedine Zidane called it the "match of the year," but his team have struggled on their home field on numerous occasions this season. They lost the quarter-final return leg 3-1 against Juventus and were eliminated by Leganes in the domestic cup in January.
"We have to turn in an outstanding display, we know that," stressed the coach, adding that focus, determination and full commitment will be crucial against Jupp Heynckes' men. "We have to turn in the best display of the year and give it everything to make it to the final," Zidane demanded.
Ronaldo prolific at the Bernabéu
Cristiano Ronaldo is especially prolific at home. The 33-year-old World Player of the Year did not stand out in the first leg against Bayern but has scored in all of Real's home matches over the last three months, netting 18 times in nine games. "Cristiano Ronaldo at the Santiago Bernabéu means goals," Real declared on their website. Ronaldo is set to make his 100th Champions League appearance for the club.
However, Zidane is struggling with the personnel situation, just like Heynckes. The Frenchman will have to make do without right-back Dani Carvajal (thigh problem). Lucas Vazquez, Nacho or captain Ramos might deputise on the right. "The coach has to decide. It's no problem for me to adjust," said Ramos, who started out as a right-back before he became a world-class centre-half.
Midfielder Isco is rated doubtful. He took part in the final training session despite a shoulder injury, but Zidane does not want to take risks: "Players who aren't 100 percent fit won't play," stressed the 45-year-old, demanding full focus on Tuesday's match: "It's important that we win the match, nothing else matters. Bayern are here to have a great game. They're a great club and we're aware of that. But we're prepared. We too want to have a great game."