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Primed for Real

FCB vow to ‘give everything’ in Lisbon quest

Extraordinary matches call for extraordinary measures, according to Pep Guardiola. The Bayern head coach has made a small but significant change to the club’s traditional routine this season: Philipp Lahm and Co are generally allowed to spend the night before matches at the Allianz Arena at home with their families. But prior to the all-or-nothing Champions League semi-final return against Real Madrid on Tuesday (Live in English from 8.45 pm CET on Twitter and FCB.tv Web Radio) Guardiola has reverted to the standard practice at FCB for many long years: following the final pre-match training session on Monday lunchtime, the squad will repair to a hotel and focus on the upcoming challenge as a collective.

The coach wants nothing left to chance, because despite last week’s 1–0 defeat in the Spanish capital, Bayern remain hugely optimistic. “I just have a really good gut feeling,” Arjen Robben told the 120 reporters from all over the world at Monday morning’s press conference. “It’s really simple: we have to attack, play our football and score goals.“ Naturally, the Reds must bear in mind Real’s strength on the break, “but we mustn’t be afraid of it,” the Dutch ace urged.

So how do Bayern intend to prise apart Madrid’s packed defence on this occasion? Pep Guardiola played his cards close to his chest on Monday, but gave at least a hint as to his thinking. “We want to be just as dominant as we were in Madrid!“ The key factors were to be “more effective and more aggressive” and to find the “right balance” between attack and defence.

The coach declined to reveal whether he would alter his team compared to the first leg, potentially bringing back Bayern’s top Champions League scorer Thomas Müller, for example. “I need to sleep on it,” explained the 43-year-old. Thiago, Xherdan Shaqiri, Tom Starke and Holger Badstuber are the only men definitely out of contention for FCB.

Peak performance required

Regardless of the eventual line-up, every player will need to be on peak form according to Guardiola: “If we’re to make the final we’ll need the best possible performance.” A victory by two clear goals would see the Bavarians through to their third Champions League final in a row. A 1–0 home win would send the tie into extra time, but if Real should score, Bayern will need at least three goals to realise the dream of a trip to Lisbon.

“We know we can’t afford mistakes,” confirmed Robben. Real will be confident when they arrive in Munich, “but they’re well aware it’s not over yet.” Team-mate David Alaba, who sat alongside Robben for the press conference at the Arena, feels the Bundesliga champions should trust in their own ability: “We need to play to our strengths, prepare well and give everything.” Jérôme Boateng also feels Bayern should get on the front foot. “As always we’ll try and get forward, but we need to defend better against Real’s fast breaks.“

All eyes in the footballing world will be on Munich this Tuesday to see whether Guardiola’s men can pull it off. An extraordinary 880 media representatives applied for accreditation at the Allianz Arena. Appropriately enough Guardiola answered questions in German, English, Spanish and Italian. Bayern versus Real is as good as it gets in global football at the present time, “and we should enjoy it,” Guardiola concluded.