MUNICH, Germany, April 25, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Jupp Heynckes says Real Madrid should worry about Robert Lewandowski just as much as Bayern Munich will be focused on stopping Cristiano Ronaldo in Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg.
“Cristiano has had an incredible career, but we have Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 38 goals, so the question should be asked who will stop him?” said Bayern coach Heynckes.
The German champions host holders Real in a crunch clash of European powerhouses at the Allianz Arena with the return leg on May 1 in Madrid.
Two of this season’s deadliest goalscorers will go head-to-head when Ronaldo, with 42 goals in 39 games, faces Lewandowski, who has scored 39 times in 43 matches.
Both teams will be at near full-strength, but Bayern are waiting on left-back David Alaba who has a thigh injury.
Much of the pre-match focus has been on Ronaldo, who has scored 15 goals and hit the net in each of Madrid’s 10 Champions League games this season.
Ronaldo has scored nine goals in six games against Bayern, including five over two legs when Real won 6-3 on aggregate in last season’s quarter-finals.
“Cristiano is a wonderful athlete — you can see that with the goals he scores,” said Bayern defender Jerome Boateng.
“I don’t think he has any weaknesses. We can only defend against him as a team.”
– Score to settle –
Bayern have a score to settle with the Spaniards, who have won five of their last six meetings.
Real handed the Bavarians their heaviest European home defeat when they won 4-0 in Munich in the 2014 semi-finals.
Nevertheless, the record 12-time winners know they will be tested at the Allianz Arena.
“Ajren Robben, Lewandowski and Franck Ribery are three very difficult players to defend against,” said Real defender Dani Carvajal.
“They could score with any chance.”
The semi-final will also give James Rodriguez the chance to show Real what they are missing.
James has shone at Bayern since leaving Real on a two-year loan deal last July at the end of three often difficult seasons in Madrid.
“James loves to play football, so of course he’ll want to play well, but not to show me or prove me wrong,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane.
Zidane’s appointment as Madrid coach in January 2016 was a setback for James as the Frenchman gave him limited opportunities and often left him on the bench.
“The only reason he went was that he wanted to play more football,” insisted Zidane, denying any tension between the pair.
Real midfielder Toni Kroos, who won the 2013 treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles with Bayern, says the Spaniards are hungry for a third straight European crown.
“We want to reach the final — it’s our last chance to win a title this season, as it was two years ago,” said Kroos.
“We are highly motivated to defend our title.
“We know it will be very difficult, but we’ve already beaten Paris (Saint-Germain) and Juventus on our way here.
“Expectation levels at both clubs are similar — you set out to win every competition.
“Playing in the Champions League is a special motivation for us, as whoever wins in the end can call themselves the best team in Europe.
“Bayern will be just as hungry.
“They are in better shape than last year and in top form, but we are here to change that.”