Bayern Munich have been drawn against their old enemy Real Madrid for what I like to call the European Classico. Will the recent trend of results continue or will La Bestia Negra serve a cold dish of revenge?
Real Madrid have moved away from the 4-3-3 formation they have been using, heading more towards a more balanced 4-4-2. When they want to take control of the match they deploy a diamond variation with Isco being the focal point. They have also been playing a more traditional 4-4-2 with additions of Vazquez and Asensio to play Swift and decisive counterattacking football. In addition, they have cultivated a mental belief to go through tricky situations. They are probably the most difficult team to topple in the Champions League.
Their biggest strength is their midfield triumvirate of Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro. These players are the spine of Los Merengues and are vital to the way the team plays. Casemiro does all the dirty work, picking up fouls, winning the ball back and creating opportunities to launch attacks. Toni Kroos is the conductor of precision and incisive passing. Luka Modric controls the entire midfield.
Real also have the best full-backs in football with Dani Carvajal being one of the smartest. Marcelo is a devastating force in attack. He breaks apart defences on his own. The Brazilian gives width and pace which are very hard for anyone to handle.
The Portuguese superstar lives and breathes for the European nights and is one of the most consistent performers on the highest stage. Cristiano will be a menace to deal with and will be the most potent threat Bayern’s defence will be facing this season.
How to beat them?
As strong as they are going forward, full-backs tend to leave a lot of space and half space behind, which would be very smart to exploit. Marcelo should be the prime target in that regard.
Crosses and set pieces
Real Madrid are very sloppy when being forced to be deal with crosses and set pieces. They conceded a few goals due to their particular difficulties with the crosses. Bayern possess few of the best players to take advantage of this problem. In James Rodríguez, Bayern have the best man in the world to serve crosses. The young Joshua Kimmich is truly remarkable from his full-back position. Both should aim at the penalty area.
Superstars like Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale are in a particularly poor form, while there is also a loss in quality options after the summer departures of aforementioned James, Alvaro Morata and Mariano Diaz. Real Madrid are not as strong and as deep as they were last season.
The Spaniards will be the toughest test that Jupp Heynckes’ Bayern will face this season. We have to hope that the Die Roten play to their best and we can send the unmatchable Jupp Heynckes on a high.