Did you know that on Wednesday Bayern Munich have to play Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League semi-final? Yeah, me neither. Luckily, we have Lucas Navarrete from SBNation's Managing Madrid to answer some questions ahead of that fixture to address our woeful incompetence.
Bavarian Football Works: 1) Real Madrid brought in a shiny new manager in Carlo Ancelotti after Jose Mourinho left for [team name redacted for aneurysm concerns]. How has the Italian coach changed Real Madrid?
Lukas Navarrete: Ancelotti has tried to change the team's style and mentality. He first implemented a 4-4-2 formation which didn't really suit Cristiano Ronaldo and then moved to the current 4-3-3. He's obviously trying to have more possession without affecting the team's ability to launch fast counterattacks. In other words, this Real Madrid is much more adaptable and versatile. In return, it's also true that the side has lost a bit of competitive instinct, something that can be proved by looking at the Real's record against elite teams this season. Real Madrid are much more conservative now and like to control the game, so we are also less aggressive and we tend to miss some easy chances. If we were to combine Mourinho's Real Madrid killer instinct with Ancelotti's passing game, Real Madrid would be the perfect team. :
BFW: 2) There's some doubt over whether Cristiano Ronaldo, boy wonder and usurper of Franck Ribery's Ballon d'Or, will be fit to play. Will he be fit in time, and if not, what is Ancelotti's backup plan?
LN: It'd really surprise me to see him missing that game, but I also thought that he was going to play in the Copa del Rey Final. However, he completed one part of the training session with the rest of the squad on Friday and it seems that he will be able to play. If he wasn't fit, Isco should be the one starting after being one of Real's best players against Barcelona, but the formation could change. Against Barcelona, Real Madrid played with a 4-4-2 that basically tempted Messi and company to cross the ball all the time. That will not happen against Bayern, since Mandzukic and Müller are not Neymar and Messi in terms of aerial play. Therefore, I expect the usual 4-3-3 formation with Alonso-Modric-DiMaría and Cristiano-Benzema-Bale if the Portuguese is fit. You will surely dominate the possession but this team can counterattack well and convert their chances. Isco is a really exciting prospect who I believe should start every single game ahead of Di María, but I understand Ancelotti's love for Di María's work in the midfield. And Isco can be a great sub. But look for him to be a key starter next season.
LN: Nah, I think that game should be put into perspective. We managed to get a comfortable 3-0 lead at the Bernabéu and the players went to the Signal Iduna Park quite relaxed. Furthermore, we got that missed PK and two straight mistakes by Pepe and Illarramendi. If you put all those three mistakes aside, the game wasn't that bad, especially if you consider how bad the score looked for more than 45 minutes. This game is related to the lack of killer instinct I was talking about previously. I don't think that Bayern will be able to find that kind of lack of concentration.
BFW: Extra) You've deprived the world of being able to watch Sami Khedira this summer. When can we expect your apology to the human race?
LN: Careful, he's training with the squad too for more than 5 days now and could even be fit for the second leg. Love him or hate him, I think he's a really important player for Ancelotti's 4-3-3. I understand that he doesn't have Kroos or Schwensteiger's skills, but his work and understanding of the game is truly valuable. A very underrated player who might still have something to say this season and should also be in Germany's list.
A huge thanks to Lucas for agreeing to do this and use his valuable time to answer our questions. Be sure to swing on by Managing Madrid this week as we prepare for this upcoming clash.