Real Madrid Lack Extra Gear for Bayern, Atletico Thinking About Playing Courtois

Guillem BalagueFeatured ColumnistApril 11, 2014

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In the eyes of Barcelona fans, Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola is now the last bastion able to do some damage to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.

It took the Bundesliga champions a while to react against Manchester United. They had a lot of possession against United and dominated both games. And they found an extra gear when they needed to because they have it.

They have been breaking records in Germany, have a lot of pace, can keep the ball and defend well. All in all, Bayern are a very balanced team.

But Real Madrid have found themselves lacking that extra gear at key moments in the season. Against Barcelona, they couldn't beat them at the Bernabeu and haven't been able to defeat Atletico, Athletic or Sevilla away.

In the first half of the second leg against Borussia Dortmund, Real were so poor. They made mistakes and the midfield did not hold them together.

Martin Meissner

It seems Cristiano Ronaldo could be missing for the first leg of the semi-final through injury, so I think Bayern can draw the first game and finish it off in the return match.

But it is so equal between Atletico Madrid and Chelsea that any prediction is unnecessary. Every little detail will count towards the result.

And I'm pretty sure the tie will be decided by just one goal over the 180 minutes if it doesn't go to penalties. I feel it will be that close.

With Thibaut Courtois, UEFA says it is against the spirit of the competition to pay for another player to be able to compete after Chelsea were reported to have a clause in his loan deal which would see Atletico pay £2.5 million for each game, as Adrian Kajumba of the Daily Star rightly claimed.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM - OCTOBER 15:  Goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois of Belgium in action during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifying Group A match between Belgium and Wales at King Baudouin Stadium on October 15, 2013 in Brussels, Belgium.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtar
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

My understanding is that because Atletico want Courtois to stay at the club next season, what they may do is not play him even if they are able to. They do not want to upset Chelsea. But the good news for Atletico is that Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck has already positioned himself and admitted in BEIN Sport that, if it was up to him, the goalkeeper will play. Both clubs will talk in the next hours about it. 

But the fear of Atletico is to think that Chelsea might consider pulling out of a deal to keep Courtois on loan to Atletico for another year (pending a renewal of his contract with Chelsea that he has agreed to) if the London club feel the clause put in the loan contract was included in the understanding that was not going to be approved by UEFA. Atletico claim to be innocent and will leave to Chelsea the decision if they can play the Belgium international. If they are happy with it all, Atletico will field him.

In the Europa League semi-finals, Sevilla have certainly grown in the last few months based on the same things head coach Unai Emery was criticised for; the media said he did not have an established XI, and that he rotates too much.

But what we are finding now is that he has a very versatile young team, who are heading into the end of the season looking sharp and physically very strong.

Kevin Gameiro and Carlos Bacca have been an inspiration up front, and Ivan Rakitic is no doubt the best player outside the top three La Liga clubs.

Angel Fernandez

According to my sources, Rakitic was negotiating a contract with Sevilla and the club leaked that he was about to sign, but Real Madrid rang him to say, "Don't sign it yet because we want you." But we will see what happens with that.

Valencia are a Jekyll and Hyde side. On the one hand, they went to Basel and were battered, and then they go and beat the Swiss club 5-0 in the second leg.

They have enough quality in their squad but seem to lack the mental strength and leadership, although coach Juan Antonio Pizzi is trying to overcome that. But it seems a very equal tie.