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As European heavyweights prepare to meet in Munich, investigates their rivalry and assess whether the German giants' historic success might tip the scales on Tuesday

By Clark Whitney | German Football Editor

Around the turn of the millennium, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich were the strongest, most consistent clubs in Europe. Between 1998 and 2002, the Spanish giants won the Champions League three times. The Bavarians, meanwhile, reached the final in 1999 and 2001, winning the title in the latter instance, and lost in the semi-finals in 2000.

While Real were ultimately more successful during their spell of dominance, they developed a rivalry with - and healthy respect for - Bayern, who are nicknamed 'La Bestia Negra' (the Black Beast, a term to describe a feared adversary) by fans of the Spanish side.





Even at the height of Madrid’s Galacticos era, when Raul, Roberto Carlos, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, David Beckham and Luis Figo graced the Santiago Bernabeu, a meeting with Bayern always prompted concern from even the most ardent of Blancos supporters. And for good reason. In 12 meetings since 1999, the Bavarians have come out winners seven times.

The Germans may not have contained all the star power of the Galacticos, but they had spirit and chemistry, and they took their chances. As time wore on, a mental advantage grew: Bayern played well against Real because they played well against Real.

When the two sides met in the 2006-07 Champions League round of 16, the Spanish team looked certain to enter the away leg with a 3-1 aggregate lead. But Mark van Bommel stepped up and delivered a late strike that stunned the Bernabeu faithful.

Bayern needed a goal in the return leg, and it took just 10.2 seconds - a Champions League record that still remains - for Roy Makaay to put the hosts in pole position to advance. And advance they did, despite having one of the most ordinary Bayern starting line-ups in recent memory. It was mentality that played the biggest role in Van Bommel and Makaay's goals: the resolve to push to the final whistle, even away from home and with a two-goal disadvantage; the aggression to pounce on a misplaced pass and score even in the opening moments. These mental factors proved to be the ace up their sleeves, and it turned the tie.

The Germans' win in 2007 was one rare bright spot during a tough spell in their European history. And indeed, both sides struggled in the mid to late 2000s, with Bayern going eight seasons without advancing past the quarter-finals, and Real failing to reach the last eight for six years. But both European heavyweights are back and are once more regarded as two of the continent’s most formidable powers.

BAYERN v MADRID | Champions League knockout record since 1999-2000
Bayern Munich 2-3 Real Madrid
2000-01 Semi-final Bayern Munich 3-1 Real Madrid
2001-02 Quarter-final Real Madrid 3-1 Bayern Munich
2003-04 Round of 16 Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich
2006-07 Round of 16 Bayern Munich 4-4 Real Madrid

Madrid have caught the headlines this season, and are the bookkeepers’ favourites ahead of the clash. However, they have only faced top-class opposition once during the current campaign - a match that ended in a 3-1 loss to Barcelona in La Liga - and are yet to beat a side even close to Bayern's calibre.

Expectations are high in Madrid as the Liga leaders aim for their first Champions League final since ushering in the new 'Galacticos' era in 2009. Having spent some €360 million during the last three summer transfer windows, Real can only keep the status quo or fail - and therein lies a distinct advantage for Bayern.

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