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Bayern seeking home advantage

Published: Tuesday 2 April 2002, 13.56CET
FC Bayern München will look to make home advantage count against Real Madrid CF.

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Published: Tuesday 2 April 2002, 13.56CET

Bayern seeking home advantage

FC Bayern München will look to make home advantage count against Real Madrid CF.

Real Madrid CF know they have a mental hurdle to clear as much as a formidable opponent when they meet their arch rivals the European champions FC Bayern München in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tonight. This will be the third consecutive season that these two giants of the European game have met and with a 5-1 record in their favour, the German club hold a definite psychological advantage.

Madrid advantage
It is hard to imagine the eight-time winners fearing anyone, but if there is one side whom Madrid do fear it is possibly Bayern. By the same token, Bayern will feel stronger for knowing that no Spanish team has ever won at the Olympiastadion, which will be full to its 59,000 capacity. The major difference about their meeting this time, as opposed to those in the last two seasons, is that on this occasion Madrid have the advantage of playing the second leg back in the Spanish capital.

Best records
Consequently, it will be imperative that they do not allow the tie to get away from them in Germany. The game brings together the team with the best attacking record in the Champions League - Madrid, with 14 goals - against the team with the best defensive record - Bayern, with just two goals conceded, only the requirements of the night will more than likely test the contrary element of each team's game.

Scholl and Figo missing
Hence, the loss to Bayern of Mehmet Scholl, who broke down on his comeback last weekend, could be greater than that to Madrid of Luis Figo, who has still not recovered from the ankle injury he initially suffered on Matchday Nine against FC Porto. Fortunately for Madrid, Zinedine Zidane should not be unduly troubled by the ankle he turned at the weekend. Steve McManaman is expected to fill in for Figo.

'Creative player'
"I had big hopes that Mehmet could play," said Ottmar Hitzfeld, the Bayern coach. "He is a very creative player and in such an important match he is a man who could decide such a game."

Last chance
Another problem for Bayern is that goals are in short supply at either end of their playing field just now, as was evident from the goalless draw away to Hamburger SV last Saturday which enabled Bayer 04 Leverkusen to increase their lead in the 1. Bundesliga to a possibly unassailable seven-point advantage with five games to go. Out of the German Cup, too, the Champions League represents Bayern's last chance of a trophy this season. That, one fancies, will be considerably more of an impetus to them than the €40,000 each man would receive for beating Madrid.

Anniversary celebrations
Madrid's centenary anniversary celebrations may have been unexpectedly diluted by RC Deportivo La Coruña's victory against them in the Copa del Rey final at the Santiago Bernabéu last month, but there is still the opportunity to crown their season with a memorable double. A hard-fought 1-0 win away to Sevilla FC last Saturday enabled Madrid to maintain their lead in the Primera División.

'Normal level'
One goal tonight for Madrid would represent their 150th in the competition, but it could be that another statistic will be the more relevant - victory for Bayern would make it exactly 100 for them in the European Champion Clubs' Cup, though they will probably need a comfortable one to take with them to Spain for the return leg. Raúl González, the Madrid striker, probably hit it on head when he said: "We our are greatest rivals. If we reach our normal level, we will win."

Last updated: 16/11/12 9.17CET