James Rodriguez is ready to put all sentiment aside as Bayern Munich get set to take on his former club, Real Madrid in the Champions League semi finals. The Spanish giants, despite having their struggles in La Liga, booked their place in the semifinals with a last-gasp penalty by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo deep into stoppage time vs Juventus.
Having spent three years at Madrid, James is quite familiar with the Portuguese ace, but he’s confident that Bayern can thwart him if they get everything right (via Bundesliga.com):
Ronaldo is a goal machine, he has proven that more than once. The numbers speak for themselves. I hope we have a good day and defend well against him so that he’s not so good in the two games against us, but Real isn’t only Cristiano. They have great players in every position. It won’t be easy . . . Both games will be special for me. I was at Real for three years, I have friends there and good memories from that time. I’m only thinking about my team now and how we can beat Real. I want to help my team with my qualities and contribute to taking us to [the final in] Kiev.
Jupp Heynckes decided to bench James for Bayern’s 6-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB Pokal semi-finals, perhaps with one eye on the first leg against Madrid looming next Wednesday. James come on for 10 minutes at the end of the match for Thomas Muller, but one would have to think that Heynckes was resting him as much as he could prior to the Madrid clash.
With last year’s quarterfinals in mind, in which Madrid knocked out Bayern 6-3 on aggregate, James admitted (via TZ) that he’s only thinking about the upcoming legs as just two more matches Bayern have to win:
I believe we shouldn’t view the two matches against Real as revenge for last year, but rather simply as two more goals on the way to the final. Of course the meetings between these two teams are almost always unique, but we players have to focus on what’s really important: in order to stand up to a team like Real Madrid, we have to be both tactically and physically in our best condition.
Recognizing the magic touch Madrid seem to have in the Champions League, James said he’s confident that his Bayern side has no reason to hide, and that they have what it takes to take the match to them:
You’re right: in the Champions League they always find an extra gear than in the league and manage to give everything they have. They know what it takes to fight for this cup year after year; they’ve written Europa Cup and Champions League history, after all. But Bayern Munich has no need to hide. History has shown that Bayern knows how to approach matches against Real Madrid.