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Champions League tips, 17th April 2012

Bayern Munich v Real Madrid, 19:45

Amazingly, Bayern have never lost a home match to Real Madrid, and in the three semi-finals between the sides the Spaniards have only emerged victorious once. Madrid are in extremely clinical form this season, not having lost a single game in the Champions League, but the Bayern team is at that stage where the players seem to have the perfect combination of experience and talent, and this will be a close affair.

For me this is the tie of the round, as I’m entirely unconvinced Chelsea can match Barcelona, and this game also contains a brilliant battle of the minds between legends of management. The play will be edgy and tight, with the Spaniards the absolute masters of the counter attack and going from one end of the pitch to the other in a very short space of time, and that will force Bayern to play conservatively to some extent as they won’t want to concede and away goal.

Bayern are set to bring back Franck Ribery, Mario Gomez and Philipp Lahm after the three players were rested for the draw with Mainz at the weekend. Bastian Schweinsteiger could start after returning from suspension with Luiz Gustavo also in contention, but Daniel Van Buyten and Breno are both injured. Ribery’s form has been criticised recently, and if he doesn’t perform it could be the end for him, with Shaqiri arriving in the summer.

For Real, Karim Benzema, Angel Di Maria and Kaka could start for the visitors after being consigned to the substitutes bench in the Liga win over Sporting Gijon on Saturday. Xabi Alonso returns after a domestic suspension, but Ricardo Carvalho and Lassana Diarra remain on the injury list. Ronaldo will undoubtedly be the main threat, but with the likes of Kaka, Ozil and di Maria available Bayern can’t afford to focus solely on the Portuguese.

Ronaldo is a 4/1 shot with SkyBet to score first, but seeing as I’m going to say I like the 12/1 with Bet365 on a 0-0 that can’t be my bet. The bookies are more in favour of a 1-1 (6’s, VictorChandler), but I went for a bit of value.

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