Here we take a look at the players who could decide the UEFA Champions League semi-finals first-leg between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Bayern Munich will take on Real Madrid for the 25th time in a European Cup as Allianz Arena will host the first-leg between the two sides in the semi-final. There was never a dull moment when these two sides face each other and the last time they met in a UEFA Champions League game, Real Madrid knocked Bayern Munich out of the quarter-finals in the 2016/17 competition.
Both teams have a star-studded lineup and there will no shortage of lively football. Real Madrid will look to make it to the finals for the third time in a row while Bayern Munich will want to avenge their painful defeat last year.
On that note, let’s take a look at the 5 players who could decide the first-leg.
#5 Thomas Mueller
The Germany international will be a key player for Bayern Munich on Wednesday. Deployed primarily on the right in an attacking role, Muller has been excellent for Jupp Heynckes’ side so far and his link-up play with Robert Lewandowski has been excellent this season.
He has already scored 10 goals and assisted 13 more in Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League this season. The 28-year-old will be the key to unlocking Real Madrid defence and his pace could be very crucial.
Muller is not new to big occasions and has played a lot of Champions League knockout games in his career.
The Real Madrid central midfielder is an unsung hero for Zinedine Zidane’s side. He may not score a lot of goals or create them, but he is definitely an important player for Zinedine Zidane.
In a team full of attacking talents, Casemiro’s patience and defensive abilities hold the key to keeping the opponents at bay. He sits back and prevents opponents attacking threats, allowing Marcelo and Carvajal to play up the pitch.
He averages 4.7 tackles per game in Champions League this season, which is simply phenomenal. Bayern Munich has no shortage of midfield talents and Casemiro has the biggest job on the night of keeping them quiet.
#3 Joshua Kimmich
The 23-year-old right-back has been a revelation in German football this season. Joshua Kimmich has been phenomenal for Bayern Munich throughout the 2017/18 campaign.
He has scored goals, created them, defended brilliantly, and been an ever-present figure in the Bayern Munich and Germany lineup. With 4 goals and 13 assists already this season, the German fullback is having the best season of his career.
With 2.2 key passes per game in Champions League this campaign, Kimmich holds the key to Bayern’s play on the wide areas. He gets into good attacking positions and can put in a good cross as well, so he’ll be a threat. Marcelo has to be at his best to stop the young fullback from making forward forays.
#2 Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brilliant hat-trick when these two sides last met in a UEFA Champions League game. The Portuguese finished the 2016/17 quarter-finals tie against Bayern Munich with a total of 5 goals.
He single-handedly won them the quarter-finals last year and could be an important player once again. Also, the 33-year-old is in the form of his life at the moment. Ronaldo has scored 26 goals in his last 15 competitive games for Real Madrid after being written off due to his slow start to the season.
The battle between Mats Hummels and Ronaldo could be very intriguing. Ronaldo has dominated him in the past and could do so again.
#1 Robert Lewandowski
He is arguably the best no.9 in world football right now. With 38 goals already this campaign, the Poland international is in stunning form at the moment. Lewandowski has scored 8 goals in his last 8 competitive games for Bayern Munich.
The Pole is the only player in Champions League history to score 6 goals against Real Madrid. He scored four goals against Real while playing for Borussia Dortmund in the 2012/13 UEFA Champions League semi-finals and helped his side to the final.
He played only 23 minutes in the game against Hannover 96 is expected to lead the line once again for the German champions on Wednesday. Playing at the Allianz Arena will be an added advantage for Lewandowski and Bayern Munich.