Champions League: Bayern Munich counting on home advantage to counter Atletico Madrid

Berlin: Bayern Munich is looking to its strength at home to overturn a 1-0 loss to Atletico Madrid and reach the Champions League final for the second time in three years.

Since losing the 2014 semifinal to Real Madrid, Bayern has won all 11 Champions League games in Munich. Another victory on Tuesday would match Manchester United's record from 2006-09.

"We're very very strong at home. That's what we're counting on," said Germany defender Jerome Boateng, who made his return Saturday after more than three months out with a groin injury.

Reuters

Saul Niguez' brilliant early strike in the first leg put Atletico in the driver's seat. Reuters

Against Juventus at home in March, Bayern was 2-0 down and heading for a round of 16 exit before the side came back to win 4-2 in extra time.

Another comeback in front of home fans is expected Tuesday with Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge telling Atletico: "We'll throw everything into it with 70,000 supporters and deliver a huge fight, that I can promise you. I hope that this fight will lead us to (the final in) Milan."


Saul Niguez' brilliant early strike in the first leg in Spain is the difference between the sides and Atletico is counting on its defensive strength to see it through for what could be a repeat of the 2014 final against city rival Real Madrid.

Atletico has conceded only five goals, the least in the Champions League along with Madrid, which hosts Manchester City for the other semifinal on Wednesday.

Atletico welcomes back key player Diego Godin, who missed the first leg at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, to its backline, while Yannick Carrasco was also cleared to play on Sunday after recovering from an ankle injury.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone rested most of his first-choice players over the weekend, starting only goalkeeper Jan Oblak, defenders Jose Gimenez and Juanfran Torres, and midfielder Gabi Fernandez from the side that beat Bayern in the semifinal first leg. Atletico won 1-0 against local rival Rayo Vallecano to stay level on points with Spanish league leader Barcelona on Saturday.

Some 2,800 "Atleti" fans are travelling to Munich to lend their support to Simeone's side.

Bayern counterpart Pep Guardiola also rested players in Saturday's 1-1 draw at home with Borussia Moenchengladbach. Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez were left out of the squad altogether, while Philipp Lahm, David Alaba, Arturo Vidal, Thiago Alcantara, Douglas Costa and Robert Lewandowski all started on the bench.


The draw put Bayern's league title celebrations on hold. Guardiola is under pressure to match predecessor Jupp Heynckes' 2013 feat of the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble before he leaves for Manchester City, which he may yet face in the Champions League final. Bayern plays Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup final on 21 May.

Franck Ribery is a doubt with a back problem, while fellow Bayern winger Arjen Robben is still out with a groin injury.

Five-time champion Bayern is at risk of going out to Spanish opposition at the semifinal stage for the third straight season, after defeats to Real Madrid and Barcelona in 2014 and 2015.

Bayern's first European Cup came against Atletico in 1974, in the only final to go to a replay. They were the sides' only previous meetings before the semifinal first leg in Madrid.

Bayern captain Philipp Lahm says supporters will see a side "that 100 per cent wants to reach the final, that will give everything to turn the result around with the support of the fans."

The 32-year-old Lahm has made more Champions League appearances than any other German player, his 104th game in Madrid surpassing Oliver Kahn's tally of 103.

Bayern has won five of seven ties after losing 1-0 away first, but the last occasion was the 4-0 loss to Real Madrid in the 2014 semifinal — the club's heaviest home defeat in Europe.

"It won't be easy. We'll have to be patient," Boateng said.


Published Date: May 03, 2016 04:50 pm | Updated Date: May 03, 2016 04:50 pm



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