Bayern Munich are looking to end Cristiano Ronaldo’s incredible scoring run and halt Real Madrid’s bid for a third straight Champions League title in Wednesday’s semi-final first leg at the Allianz Arena.
Record 12-time winners Real arrive with Ronaldo having scored in 11 consecutive matches in the competition, while Bayern are hoping to gain revenge for their dramatic quarter-final loss to the Spaniards last year.
Zinedine Zidane’s holders edged into the last four thanks to an injury-time Ronaldo penalty against an inspired Juventus, while Bayern saw off Sevilla.
The German giants are five-time champions but last lifted the trophy in 2013 when current coach Jupp Heynckes led them to the treble of European, Bundesliga and German Cup titles.
Bayern will have to make do without left-back David Alaba, though, after the Austrian was ruled out with a thigh injury just hours before the 1845 GMT kick-off time.
The key for Heynckes’ men will be stopping Ronaldo, who has scored an incredible 15 goals in this season’s tournament and is closing in on his previous record tally of 17.
The Portuguese also netted five times across the two legs in last year’s 6-3 aggregate win over Bayern, including a hat-trick in the thrilling second leg which Real won in extra time.
But the 72-year-old Heynckes pointed to his own team’s star striker Robert Lewandowski, saying that Real should be just as wary of the Pole as his team will be focused on stopping Ronaldo.
“Cristiano has had an incredible career, but we have Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 38 goals (this season), so the question should be asked who will stop him?” he said.
The two teams head into the tie with identical head-to-head records with 11 wins each from 24 previous meetings, with a place in the final against either Liverpool or Roma at stake.
Real have dominated the rivalry in recent years, though, with their victory 12 months ago following a record 4-0 thumping of then-holders Bayern in Bavaria in 2014.
But the German champions are playing in the semi-finals for the sixth time in seven seasons, and Real know they can take nothing for granted.
“Arjen Robben, Lewandowski and Franck Ribery are three very difficult players to defend against,” admitted Real right-back Dani Carvajal. “They could score with any chance.”
As well as veteran wingers Ribery and Robben, Real will have to deal with 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez, who is on loan at Bayern from the Santiago Bernabeu.
But Zidane, who let the Colombian leave on a two-year loan deal last July, doesn’t think he’ll have a point to prove to his parent club.
“James loves to play football, so of course he’ll want to play well, but not to show me or prove me wrong,” said Zidane.
Real have negotiated a tricky path to the semi-finals, after finishing second in the group stage behind Tottenham and knocking out cash-rich Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 before beating last year’s runners-up Juventus.
But after a disappointing domestic campaign, the Champions League represents the team’s last remaining chance to win a trophy this season.
“We want to reach the final -– it’s our last chance to win a title this season, as it was two years ago,” said Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, who played for Bayern for seven years from 2007.
“We are highly motivated to defend our title.”