Frequently a substitute, Claudio Pizarro may not be used to making fast starts this season, but he is hopeful FC Bayern München can do just that when they face Real Madrid CF on Wednesday with a place in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals at stake.
Pizarro was a catalyst for Bayern's recovery in the first meeting at the Santiago Bernebéu, when a late Mark van Bommel strike pulled the scores back to 3-2, breathing new life into the last-16 tie. A 61st-minute introduction, the Peruvian international soon found gaps in the Madrid defence, twice warming Iker Casillas's hands with low shots and shaving the woodwork with a far-post header. Until then the visitors' attack had been flat and Pizarro is hoping Bayern begin brightly in the second leg. "We'll be looking to attack the game from the first whistle, looking for the victory to take us into the next round".
With both sides underperforming in domestic competition, European aspirations naturally take on increased significance. And whatever the context, Pizarro believes meetings between continental heavyweights always carry great significant. "I think the Real Madrid-Bayern games can be considered as a classic in European football," the 28-year-old said. "And we've been playing a lot of games against Madrid over the last few years." This is the fifth knockout round encounter in seven years, to be exact, with Bayern coming out on top just once, in 2000/01 – though they did go on to lift the trophy.
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