By Clark Whitney | German Football Editor
To many, the first leg was an upset. Last Tuesday, Bayern comprehensively outplayed Real Madrid in a 2-1 win in Munich, and in doing so took a big step towards progressing to the Champions League final. That step, however great and surprising, might not have been enough.
Looking ahead to the second leg, the German giants face an extremely difficult test in the Spanish capital. Bayern's form away from home has been hit-or-miss all season, and against their most formidable opponents, they have often lost. The 2-0 defeat to Manchester City in December can be more or less discounted: it was a meaningless match, and only four of the Germans' first XI featured. However, with Bayern's record marred by 1-0 defeats in Dortmund and Basel, as well as a 3-1 loss to Monchengladbach, there is cause for serious concern among the Munich faithful.
On Wednesday, Bayern will play in front of more hostile fans than ever before this season, in what will be a real pressure cooker environment. The Santiago Bernabeu will be packed to its capacity of 85,454 with the vast majority of spectators cheering on the Blancos.
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Madrid have been bolstered by their home fans all season long, and have rarely ever let them down. Jose Mourinho's side have won more than 80 per cent of their matches at the Bernabeu, averaging 3.7 goals per game. It is a simply incredible record, and it means that regardless of the score of the first leg, the Bavarians were always going to be in danger.
Looking ahead, Bayern will be kicking themselves for not taking full advantage of what was a woefully poor Real in the first leg. Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao were abysmal in defence, and the battle in central midfield was comprehensively won by the hosts. Cristiano Ronaldo lost nearly every ball that came his way in the second half. Such deficiencies are rare individually, and even rarer in combination. Bayern will have it much, much harder in the second leg, and a 2-1 advantage may be too narrow.
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Even if Bayern become the first host team in the Champions League era to reach the final on home soil, they can expect to face a titanic challenge. Seven among Jupp Heynckes' side are just one booking away from suspension: Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber, Luiz Gustavo, Toni Kroos, and Thomas Muller. The Germans will undoubtedly be forced into some rash challenges at the Bernabeu, and it is fair to say that there will be bookings.
Heynckes will not let his players tread carefully given their small aggregate advantage: Bayern will be pushed to the limit. Their goal will have to be to reach the final with only one or two suspensions, not enough to force the coach to field a B-side like the one that took on Werder Bremen over the weekend.
First things first, though: the second leg against Real beckons. It promises to be a thrilling clash, and will be a test of both sides' mettle. Records can only reveal trends. What matters most is form on the day. But as it stands, Bayern can expect an exceptionally difficult task at the Bernabeu. If they advance under any conditions, they will have earned it.
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