Bayern Munich who have been foiled in their last two UEFA Champions League semi-finals by Spanish sides will hope to break that spell when they play away to Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals first leg clash at the Estadio Vicente Calderón on Wednesday as both teams battle for a place in the final in Milan.
Atlético Madrid and Bayern have been regulars in the last four in recent years, although it is their meeting in the 1974 final that most sticks in the memory. Defeats by Spanish opponents in successive semi-finals have given Josep Guardiola’s side cause for trepidation, and they go into their first leg against Atlético having won only two of their last 12 games on Spanish soil.
Statistics may not tell the whole story, though. Those losses – to Real Madrid in 2014 and Barcelona last time out – were perhaps rooted in Bayern’s injury problems at the time, and in both cases their opponents had the greater motivation, having won the UEFA Champions League less recently than the German champions.
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This time around, Bayern look to have a pretty much full-strength squad to pick from, and the way they recovered from setbacks in the second legs against Juventus and Benfica suggests that Josep Guardiola’s side have developed greater reserves of determination.
Guardiola whose era at the Bundesliga side comes to an end this summer is not bothered by recent history ahead of Wednesday challenge. “It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. In football, you can only focus on the future. In the end it all depends on our mental performance.”
“I know exactly how special Atlético’s team is and with how much determination they play.” The Manchester City bound manager noted a few days ago.” Guardiola told UEFA.com.
The Bavarians will a real ruthlessness in attack if they are to get the better of Atlético who have not conceded in their last four competitive games. Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller have scored 16 goals between them in this season’s competition head to the Spanish capital with genuine firepower, but they will need to make it count against the most effective defence in Europe as missed first-leg chances proved costly in their last two semi-finals.
The teams have played only twice before, in the 1974 European Cup final where Atlético were seconds away from taking the trophy at the Heysel Stadium in Brussels before Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck’s 120th-minute equaliszr gave Bayern a 1-1 draw.
This is Atlético’s fifth European Cup semi-final with a record of two wins and two losses. Two years ago, they overcame Chelsea FC 3-1 on aggregate at this stage. It is also their fifth European semi-final tie against a German club and they boast of a healthy record of three wins and one defeat. Overall in two-legged ties with Bundesliga opposition, their record stands at ten wins and four defeats.
Bayern on the other hand have lost in Spain in the first leg of the semi-finals in each of the last two seasons, going down 1-0 at Real Madrid in 2013/14 (0-5 aggregate) and 3-0 at Barcelona last year (3-5 aggregate).
The German club have won on only two of their last 12 trips to Spain, losing eight. Their record in Spain is pegged at six wins, five draws and 12 defeats in 23 fixtures.