MADRID: Real Madrid will be without Gareth Bale as they look to book their place in a record seventh straight Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
However, the visitors’ chances of overcoming a 2-1 first-leg deficit were handed a huge boost as Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti confirmed top scorer Robert Lewandowski will be fit to start.
Bale is sidelined by the recurrence of an ankle problem that kept him out for three months earlier in the season and is also a doubt for Real’s crunch La Liga clash with Barcelona on Sunday.
“Gareth worked very hard to get back into the team after his injury,” said Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane on Monday.
“When he came back he was desperate to be involved and now he has a small niggle that is preventing him from being fully fit.
“I hope it is nothing and in a few days he can be with us again.
“He won’t be fit for Bayern because we don’t want to take any risks.”
By contrast, Bayern welcome back their main man in Lewandowski, who has scored 38 times in 40 appearances this season, from a shoulder injury.
“Lewandowski will help us,” said former Real coach Ancelotti.
“We are not going to change the way we play, but Lewandowski is a player that scores a lot of goals and having him back gives us a lot of confidence.”
Lewandowski’s presence was not only missed in last week’s first leg, but as Bayern also drew a blank in a 0-0 draw at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
“Obviously he is a very important player for us,” said Bayern captain Philipp Lahm.
“Everything changes with him on the pitch.”
Lahm’s last stand?
Two of the most decorated careers in the history of the Champions League could come to an end at the Bernabeu with Lahm and Xabi Alonso set to retire at the end of the season.
“It will be very difficult, but I believe in my team that it will not be my last (Champions League) game,” added Lahm.
Ancelotti is not the only former Real connection as Alonso spent five years at Madrid before joining Bayern in 2013.
“It is fantastic to be back here, but tomorrow it is back to businesses,” said Alonso.
“It is clear we come here with a disadvantage, but we come here still alive.”
Ancelotti was sacked by the Spanirds in 2015, just a year after winning Madrid’s long-awaited 10th European crown.
But the Italian insisted revenge will not motivate his desire to reach the last four.
“I have said many times I have unforgettable memories of my two years here, that is what is important.”
Madrid have never failed to progress after winning the first leg away from home in the Champions League.
However, Zidane insisted the 11-time European champions are not assured of anything despite having the advantage thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo’s second-half double at the Allianz Arena.
“We can’t think about the first leg, that has already gone,” said Zidane.
“We know the difficulty we face. Whether Bayern play at home or away they don’t change how they play.
“We still have a game to play and we need to play very, very well.”
Both sides have defensive concerns with Madrid definitely without centre-backs Raphael Varane and Pepe through injury.
Bayern’s preferred centre-back duo Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels face a race against time to be fit, while Javi Martinez is suspended after being sent off in the first leg.
“I think they both have a good chance to play.” added a hopeful Ancelotti.