In past Champions League years, Bayern Munich needed to get to the later stages in order to find an opponent worthy to test their might. The trial got pushed up to Wednesday this season, the Bavarians having to face the team that knocked them out of the competition in the spring.
It’s a test that will be hard for Bayern and their new coach to pass. Carlo Ancelotti only won once – a Spanish Cup second leg with a spot in the final mostly secure – in the Vicente Calderon while in charge of Real Madrid. Bayern have also not collected a single result in Spain since winning the European treble in 2013. Their road to another Champions League final will have to go through Atleti, and the players are looking for anything they can get from this midweek clash.
“It is important to get points here,” captain Philipp Lahm said in Bayern’s press conference on Tuesday. “Only then can someone talk about a good start to the Champions League.”
“We are competing to win the game,” he added. “We never travel somewhere to get a draw, but we can live with a point.”
This is not the same Bayern team that traveled to Madrid a year ago, and with a new team comes new hope. Franck Ribery has made his flank play great again, and Arturo Vidal’s huge performances have returned him to the dominant midfielder that Bayern poached from Juventus before last season. Atletico is just as strong as last season too though, which is why the rematch is one everyone will be watching.
One of the new faces they have in the to help in that goal in the summer. The former Dortmund man has traveled with the team after sustaining a knee injury in the weekend match against Hamburg, and Ancelotti has said he is ready to go if needed. He has yet to appear with his German teammate Jerome Boateng in defense, but with the way Martinez has started the season, that combination may not make its debut on Wednesday.
Ancelotti has a tough task of finding the right defensive combination after the way Atletico Madrid beat Bayern in April. Saul Ñiguez and Antoine Griezmann converted on two fantastically orchestrated breaks that undid all the attacking work Bayern had done in both legs. The Bayern camp has a feeling that their tactics will be similar, but that is not going to stop them from being the team that has won eight straight games to start the season.
“We know that Atletico is a very emotional team that likes to counter, but we are not going to completely change our game,” Javi Martinez said at Tuesday’s press conference. “We have to try to stop the big counter attacks.”
Ancelotti has gotten off to a record start in charge of Bayern, but this game Wednesday will be the first to show whether he is the right man to bring the Champions League trophy. Revenge is sweet, but in Madrid against Atleti, it may be hard to come by.
Prediction: 1-1 Draw. Bayern are going to have to be more pragmatic if they want to take a point from Madrid, but that could work to their benefit. Atletico may take the game to them playing in their home ground, and that may give Bayern’s forwards more space to do what they do best. The Bavarians may get the goal they needed in April, but Atleti showed again on Matchday 1 that they have a knack for getting results.
Bayern Munich injuries and suspensions: Holger Badstuber (muscle issues), Douglas Costa (thigh)
Atletico Madrid injuries and suspensions: Alessio Cerci (knee), Augusto Fernandez (knee), Jose Gimenez (groin), Miguel Moya, Tiago (thigh)
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