Monday 22 January 2018 / 07:31 AM

Can Ronaldo Save Madrid?

The Spanish contingent will be seeking revenge over the Germans on home soil in the Champions League this week after both Barcelona and Real Madrid were hammered by Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the semi-finals.


Barca vs. Bayern was billed as a potential classic considering the great history of both sides and the fact that they have each triumphed in their respective domestic leagues at a canter well before the season’s end.


The Catalans were marginal favourites to succeed on aggregate going into the opener at the Allianz Arena however Tito Villanova’s charges were humbled in devastating fashion by the Bavarians who produced one of the greatest and most dominant performances in recent Champions League memory.


Barca simply could not live with Bayern’s strength, guile and direct attacks which frequently pierced through the Spaniard’s backline at will.


So often the controlling force in terms of possession and tempo, Barca were made to relinquish such powers by a midfield inspired amidst the occasion.


Indeed, if Barca are to have any chance of turning around the 4-0 deficit at Camp Nou on Tuesday evening, they must get Bayern on the back foot from the first whistle and reassert themselves in the centre of the field.


Lionel Messi was clearly lacking match fitness in Munich following a hamstring injury and the Argentine maestro has to be sharper this time around to find more space to run at the Bayern defence.


It will be interesting to see Bayern’s approach sitting on such a commanding lead but Jupp Heynckes will surely instruct his men to play with the same freedom as they did at home as it was their pace and creativity which proved too hot to handle.


Real Madrid will perhaps be focusing their attentions on just one man after Robert Lewandowski bagged all four goals during Dortmund’s superb 4-1 victory over Los Merengues at Signal Iduna Park.


The Polish hitman is on the radar of most top European clubs ahead of the summer and the likely Bundesliga runners-up are certainly going to have a fight on their hands to keep him.


Repeating their continental success of 1997 would definitely go some way towards convincing the man dubbed by the home supporters as ‘Lewy’ to stay – and he will undoubtedly play a big part in proceedings once again at the Bernabeu.


The Black Yellows are set to face a torrent of pressure from Real who will be aiming to start fast in search of reducing their arrears.


Goals may well be aplenty and Dortmund will be hoping to snatch something on the break in order to keep the hosts at bay.


Lewandowski will be vital to the game plan and a solitary away strike could be worth just as much to the Germans as the quartet which he netted at home.


Jose Mourinho has always relished the biggest challenges and completing a great escape here would arguably be to date the best achievement of his stellar managerial career.

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Chris Kisby

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