Real Madrid v Bayern Munich, 19:45, (agg. 1-2)
Real Madrid at present is ‘the team Jose built’ and although the Special One hasn’t been there as long as a Ferguson, for example, his reign may prove a useful lesson for the club owners. Chopping and changing used to produce results in the days of Figo and Zidane, but these days it seems beating Barcelona requires a longer view and that is just what the Portuguese genius has provided. There is still a question to be answered over the ability of star turn Ronaldo to produce under the huge pressure of an international or top European setting, but his goal against Barcelona on Saturday will have given him the belief he can do that more regularly.
Bayern have a chance to do something very rare, that being compete for and potentially win the Champions League at their own stadium, with the final due to be held there. The German team have a great combination of youth and experience, and massive amounts of quality throughout, and the fact Frank Ribery had his best game for months in the first leg is yet more encouragement. He, along with Robben and Muller, Gomez and Neuer will need to be on top of their form for the full duration, as Real can break at incredible speed, but for me this game is nearly even-money to go either way, such is the overall quality on show.
Suspension-wise, with the final in mind Madrid’s Xabi Alonso, Fabio Coentrao, Higuain and Sergio Ramos will all have to be careful while seven Bayern players are on their last warning, including Thomas Muller and captain Philipp Lahm. The favourite score for Real Madrid to qualify is 2-0 at 17/2 (Betfair), although Bayern are given some hope by the bookies. The TV companies seems to have decided that Real and Barcelona will go through, but I think we could be talking about a different game to that come Thursday morning.