Philipp Lahm believes FC Bayern München's UEFA Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid CF will be decided by the team who shows "the most heart".
On the eve of the sides' sixth last-four meeting in the competition Lahm – part of the team who ousted Madrid on penalties at the Santiago Bernabéu after a 3-3 aggregate draw two years ago – knows what will be required if the holders are to repeat that feat over the coming week. "We are two great international teams," he said. "These games are decided with heart and passion."
Lahm had his spot kick saved in the 2012 shoot-out in Madrid but Bayern's 3-1 victory more than made up for that disappointment. "It's very nice to play at the Santiago Bernabéu; I feel comfortable here," he said. "I have fond memories of this ground and have always had a good feeling when we're been here."
While acknowledging Bayern will need to be "at our highest level" to reach a fourth UEFA Champions League final in five years, Lahm knows some risks will have to be taken against opponents who are the top scorers in this season's competition with 32 goals. "It's not enough to settle for a draw; we're a strong team," said the Bayern captain. "We've won the Bundesliga and we must be ambitious and want to win the Champions League. We're here to win, but we are all aware that it is a difficult task."
Bayern's challenge could be made somewhat easier should 14-goal Cristiano Ronaldo fail to recover from a hamstring injury, although Lahm would only say: "We've prepared for every eventuality, and if he doesn't play, we'll see if it's an advantage or not during the game." His team-mate Javi Martínez was more concerned with Madrid's big signing of last summer, saying: "Gareth Bale is a key player; he's the main difference [this season]."
Martínez added: "We must control Madrid's counterattacks; they're very fast on the break. They have some very quick players who can get forward at pace and score – that's what we need to watch out for. This Madrid team is more attacking as they have the players to play that way, so we have to be very careful."
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