5 Key Battles Real Madrid Must Win vs. Bayern in Champions League
Real Madrid will face their UEFA Champions League semifinal opponents from 2012, German champions Bayern Munich, at the same stage of this year's competition.
Pep Guardiola's side won it all last year and reached the final the year before. They are widely considered the best side in world football today.
Carlo Ancelotti has been dealt a rough hand in the draw, but Real are a team with many special players and have more than a fighting chance.
Here are five key battles on the pitch that Real must win to reach the final in Lisbon.
Karim Benzema Against Dante and Jerome Boateng
Karim Benzema has enjoyed a good season, but he has still not won over all his critics at Real Madrid.
The French striker is a decent finisher but many believe he does not offer enough to the team overall.
He will be up against Bayern Munich pair Dante and Jerome Boateng, who some view as the weakest point in the side.
However, in a team which went unbeaten for 53 league matches, there are no real weak points.
Benzema will need to make inroads of his own, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale likely to have their hands full against Philipp Lahm and David Alaba.
Against Barcelona in the Clasico, he scored twice but also missed a couple of golden opportunities.
Those chances will have to be snaffled up if Real are to progress against the European champions.
Cristiano Ronaldo Against Philipp Lahm
Whether this duel takes place depends on two things, but if it does, it will be an intriguing battle.
Cristiano Ronaldo is racing against time to be fit for the game after suffering an injury in his thigh, but he will be relishing the task of trying to get the better of Philipp Lahm.
Pep Guardiola has utilised Lahm in midfield this season. However, if Ronaldo is fit, the former Barcelona boss may keep him at the back.
It will be a clash between two ultimate professionals.
Ronaldo has pace, power and raw physicality, and while Lahm is no slouch, he will be relying on his speed of thought and anticipation to block the danger.
Arjen Robben Against Marcelo
This will be another mouthwatering clash.
Real Madrid's Brazilian left-back has improved immensely defensively this season, but he will still be led a merry dance by the Dutchman.
Robben was in inspired form as he helped Bayern see off Manchester United at the quarter-final stage, and he will be a key outlet for the Germans once more.
However, he doesn't like tracking back and doing the dirty work, so Marcelo might be able to get his own back.
Attacking with typical Samba flair, Marcelo is always a threat, and Bayern must watch out that he and Ronaldo don't double up on Lahm.
Luka Modric Against Bastian Schweinsteiger
Real Madrid's Croatian midfielder has gone from strength-to-strength this season under Carlo Ancelotti.
He's controlling games for Los Blancos and putting his own sheen on their style of play.
However, German powerhouse Bastian Schweinsteiger will be looking to break the Luka Modric-Xabi Alonso base of Madrid's midfield and impose himself on the game.
Alongside Javi Martinez, he can be a rock in midfield that is difficult to budge.
Franck Ribery Against Dani Carvajal
This is the area where Bayern may gain the most joy.
Ballon d'Or third-place finisher Franck Ribery will be looking forward to taking on the relatively inexperienced Spanish right-back.
Dani Carvajal, for his part, has done a solid job when required to for Madrid, particularly in Alvaro Arbeloa's absence.
However, against Barcelona in the recent Clasico, the 22-year-old's inexperience was exposed a little and Ribery will be looking to take advantage in this sure-to-be thrilling double-header as well.
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