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Schweinsteiger: Real Madrid were Bayern Munich's arch-rivals

2:23 AM IST 06/02/19
Schweinsteiger Bayern Di Maria Real Madrid
The former Bayern Munich star singled out the Angel Di Maria for his displays against the Bavarians while reflecting on past Champions League clashes

Bastian Schweinsteiger says he fondly remembers battles with Bayern Munich's 'arch-rival' Real Madrid during his time with the Bundesliga champions.

Schweinsteiger and Bayern faced off with Real Madrid eight times during his time in Germany, with two of the four two-legged encounters coming in Champions League semi-finals.

The two sides split the four total meetings, with Bayern edging the Spanish side in the 2007 last 16 and the 2012 semi-finals while Real Madrid took down Bayern in the 2004 lat16 before exacting revenge in 2014 with a lopsided semi-final win of their own.

Schweinsteiger says he relished battles with the Spanish side and recalls them as some of the most enjoyable of his career.

"Yes, we were their arch-rivals," Schweinsteiger told Marca. "People liked to see that rivalry between two greats and we respected each other a lot. We won and lost but I enjoyed playing in Madrid."

The German midfielder, now playing for the Chicago Fire, says Angel Di Maria provided the most memorable performance in any of those clashes.

Following a 1-0 first leg win at home in the opening leg of the 2014 semi-final, Real Madrid went to Munich and crushed Bayern 4-0 to seal their spot in the final, where they saw off crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid.

Di Maria provided two assists that day, and Schweinsteiger says it was a match that proved just how good that now-Paris Saint-Germain midfielder is on his day.

"I always appreciated the game of Angel Di Maria," he said. 

"I remember the semi-final we lost 4-0 at home. He was the best, so difficult to stop."

While Di Maria was a standout in his last duel between Bayern and Madrid, Schweinsteiger says an early clash was also memorable thanks to the presence and performance of Zinedine Zidane.

"I remember perfectly the first time, in 2003, at the Bernabeu. I came on in the second half and played against Zidane, who scored a good goal five minutes later. They won 1-0," he recalled.

"Playing against Zizou helped me a lot later because I watched how he moved and protected the ball. It was impossible to replicate it though, yet I did learn a lot from those things."

Real Madrid and Bayern are both set for the knockout rounds of the Champions League this year, with Schweinsteiger saying that the two, along with Barcelona and Juventus, make up the favourites to win the title.

Bayern are set to face Liverpool in their last 16 clash while Real Madrid will take on Ajax.