Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid: Expected Starting XIs for Champions League Semi
Tuesday sees the final four clubs left in the Champions League begin their bid to reach the final in Munich, and it's a humdinger to get us underway.
Bayern Munich host Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena—where the final will also be held on May 19—in the first leg of a semifinal clash between two clubs with 13 European Cups between them.
Bayern must be one of the only teams in Europe to have a positive win/loss record over Real, having won 10 of their previous 16 meetings.
However, the last time the German giants beat their Spanish counterparts was in 2001, the same season they last won the tournament. Real have progressed through each of their three subsequent ties.
Here is how the two sides are expected to line up when they face off in Munich on Tuesday.
Bayern's Back Five
GK: Manuel Neuer
RB: Philipp Lahm
CB: Holger Badstuber
CB: Jerome Boateng
LB: David Alaba
Bayern captain Philipp Lahm is set to return to the starting lineup at right-back after he was rested for the 0-0 draw against Mainz at the weekend.
Young attacking full-back David Alaba will be on the opposite side of the defence as he continues what has been an excellent breakout season for him.
The two centre-backs are likely to be Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber, who were both named in the European Team of the Week by stats gurus Opta, as relayed via Eurosport here.
Bayern's Front Six
RM: Arjen Robben
CM: Bastian Schweinsteiger
CM: Luis Gustavo
LM: Franck Ribery
ACM: Thomas Mueller
FW: Mario Gomez
Like Lahm, left-sided attacker Franck Ribery and striker Mario Gomez will be restored to the starting 11 after manager Jupp Heynckes only used them as second-half substitutes against Mainz.
Former Real Madrid winger Arjen Robben will also start, as will central midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who gave Bayern a real boost by playing the full 90 minutes at the weekend to allay fears over his lingering injury problems. He will likely play alongside Luis Gustavo instead of Anatoliy Tymoschuk, who played at the weekend.
The only other issue in the Bayern attack is whether Heynckes decides to field Thomas Mueller or Toni Kroos in behind Gomez.
Real Madrid's Back Five
GK: Iker Casillas
RB: Alvaro Arbeloa
CB: Sergio Ramos
Real are likely to line up with the same defence that beat Sporting Gijon 3-1 at the weekend.
With Ricardo Carvalho still injured, the centre-backs will be Pepe and Sergio Ramos. Alvaro Arbeloa will again fill the right-back berth vacated by Ramos on Saturday.
He was another player named in the most recent Opta Team of the Week, but his defensive capabilities will be given more of a workout against Robben.
Real Madrid's Front Six
DCM: Sami Khedira
DCM: Xabi Alonso
ARM: Angel di Maria
ACM: Mesut Ozil
ALM: Cristiano Ronaldo
FW: Karim Benzema
There will be several changes in the front six for Real. Xabi Alonso returns after he was suspended for the Sporting game and will replace Nuri Sahin in central midfield alongside Sami Khedira.
Jose Callejon scored at the weekend, taking his goal ratio to one every 108 minutes in La Liga with his fifth of the season. However, that will not be enough to stop him being replaced by Angel di Maria for the trip to Munich.
Gonzalo Higuain started up front for Real on Saturday, but manager Jose Mourinho is likely to rotate and field Karim Benzema against Bayern. He has scored seven goals in Europe this season compared to Higuain's three.
Benzema is also joint leader of the assist charts in this season's competition. Both he and teammate Kaka have five, as does Bayern's Franck Ribery.