Madrid (dpa / MunichNOW Sports) – Pep Guardiola knows all about winning at Real Madrid’s Estadio Bernabeu and is aiming for another triumph Wednesday with Bayern Munich in the semi-final of the Champions League.
During his historically successful spell in charge of Barcelona between 2008 and 2012, Guardiola guided his team to five wins and two draws in seven visits.
“I know from experience that it is not easy to win at Real Madrid,” said Guardiola Monday.
“I also know that we will not be able to win Wednesday if we are not at our very best level…They will be in good spirits after their cup final triumph (against Barcelona), this will give them more confidence.”
This will be the sixth meeting between Real and Bayern in the semi-finals. Real have ousted Bayern only once at this stage, in 2000, while Bayern prevailed in 1976, 1987, 2001 and 2012.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer should be fit after missing Bayern’s last two games with a calf injury, though the Bundesliga champions will be without midfielders Thiago Alcantara and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Bayern are bidding to become the first team to successfully defend their European crown since AC Milan in 1990.
Meanwhile, Real will be sweating on the fitness of star strikers Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
Ronaldo has been out for two weeks with a pulled hamstring but completed full training
Coach Carlo Ancelotti – who has never lost against Bayern – will have to decide whether to have Ronaldo as a starter or instead keep him on the bench.
The 2013 world player of the year is top of the Champions League scoring chart with 14 goals and is just one goal away from breaking the record of goals in a season shared by Barca’s Lionel Messi and Jose Altafini of Milan.
Bale, meanwhile, missed training Monday due to a heavy cold. The Welsh winger is the new hero of the Bernabeu after his astonishing winning goal in the cup final against Barcelona.
Real will be without veteran defender Alvaro Arbeloa and young striker Jese, though left-back Marcelo is fit again.