THE Champions League semi-finals continue on Wednesday as Bayern Munich welcome Real Madrid to the Allianz Arena. Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) shares his best bets.
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid | Wednesday 25th April 2018, 19:45 | BT Sport
Remarkably, Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes can make it consecutive trebles, fours years on from when he last achieved the feat.
His side have lost just one of their last 26 games and are unbeaten at the Allianz this season. The last team to beat a Heynckes side in Munich? Arsenal, 25 matches ago (March 2013).
With the Bundesliga done and dusted, and their place booked in the final of the DFB Pokal, Bayern are in inspired form. They’ve scored 14 goals across their last 3 matches, putting six past Dortmund, five past Gladbach and six against Leverkusen within the last month.
In their knockout Champions League home games against Besitkas and Sevilla, Bayern attempted a respective 31 and 18 shots, despite drawing the most recent of those 0-0. In the four Champions League home matches at the Allianz since Heynckes’ fourth stint began, Bayern have been responsible for 74% of shots-on-target in those matches.
In their last three home games, against Gladbach, Dortmund and Hamburg, Bayern have accounted for 86% of shots-on-target, winning a cumulative 17-1. They have been imperious at home across all formats.
Despite a relatively lowkey season, Real Madrid are still in with a shout of winning their fourth Champions League in five seasons. Cristiano Ronaldo has 15 goals in ten European games this season and will likely be at the heart of any further success.
Madrid have registered at least six shots-on-target in all ten of their Champions League games this season. They’ve scored 26 goals in that period and are always a goal threat.
Interestingly, Madrid have been at their best when they’ve operated with wingers in a 4-3-3, as has been the case over the last few seasons and in the first-leg v PSG. Yet in both legs against Juventus, Zinedine Zidane opted to revert to the 4-1-2-1-2 system which he has favoured this season.
Unjustified odds swing
This pair met in the quarter-final last year. In that tie, Bayern were favourites to qualify and ultimately lost in extra-time in Madrid, despite playing around 55 of the 210 minutes with ten-men. This time around, Madrid are made favourites and yet it can be argued that they are weaker than they were 12-months ago.
Over 1.5 first-half goals is worth considering here at 7/5. Nine of Bayern’s last 13 at home have seen a goal within the first-half an hour, while both legs of Real’s tie with Juventus saw a goal in the opening ten. This indicates the fact that both sides are keen to be positive from the start, which means we may in for an open encounter from the outset.
Cards the call
Referee Bjorn Kuipers has shown at least four cards in four of the five European games he’s officiated this campaign. Last season he showed at least this mark in both Champions League knockout games he took charge of. He’s not shy of getting his cards out.
With Real the away side, they’re more than accounted for in the cards markets. However, there are a few interesting plays that get the nod when considering the home team.
If we look at the Bundesliga numbers, of the expected line-up, Thiago Alcantara ranks in the top-three for attempted to tackles, interceptions and fouls for Bayern. He’s been booked three times in the last 14 games where he’s played at least an hour. The 4/1 available could look big should the cards flow.
Likewise, the 13/2 about James Rodriguez is tempting. Averaging at least two tackles and a foul per league game this season, he may have a point to prove against his former club.
Bayern Munich v Juventus – Thiago Alcantara to be carded (4/1 William Hill)
Bayern Munich v Juventus – James Rodriguez to be carded (13/2 Betfair)