Madrid hopes to avoid Champions League setback at home

MADRID (AP) Despite a 2-1 victory at Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals, Real Madrid is worried.

Madrid hosts Bayern in the second leg on Tuesday, but the European champions have struggled in decisive matches at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and are wary of more surprises.

”We have to think about the good things that we did in the first leg in Munich and learn from the match against Juventus at home,” said backup Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, referring to the 3-1 loss in the quarterfinals. ”If we put all that together and stay focused, we can make history by reaching another final.”

Against Juventus, Madrid won 3-0 in Italy in the first leg. There was a festive atmosphere for the second leg, which was supposed to be a mere formality.

But Madrid was surprised by Juventus from the start, quickly squandering its advantage by conceding twice in the first half and once after halftime. The 12-time champions only escaped an embarrassing home elimination thanks to a controversial late penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo.

”We need our fans cheering us on just like they did against Juventus,” Casilla said. ”We are going to need them. Champions League nights at the Bernabeu are special.”

Madrid also relinquished its lead against Bayern in the quarterfinals last season, when it also won 2-1 in Munich in the first leg.

A week later, Bayern sent the match into extra time. Ronaldo, who got both goals in the first leg and one in regulation in the second, scored twice in extra time to complete a hat trick and save Madrid from elimination.

”I don’t know how significant the first-leg advantage will be. We know what happened against Juventus and against Bayern last year,” Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. ”We will need a huge performance. We will need to play like never before this year to be able to advance. We are prepared and we are going to give it all we’ve got to make it to the final.”

Sloppy defense was key for Madrid’s home struggles both against Juventus and against Bayern last year. Madrid didn’t play poorly but couldn’t stop its opponents on the few chances they created. Against Juventus, all three goals came when the Madrid defense failed to clear routine crosses into the area.

Bayern remembers last year’s match well.

”I think they were floundering for every cross and for every long ball, so we know what we have to do,” Bayern striker Sandro Wagner said.

The defense could be a problem for Madrid again on Tuesday as right back Dani Carvajal is out injured and Zidane has few options to replace him. Youngster Achraf Hakimi is Carvajal’s immediate substitute but he has not impressed this season.

Nacho Fernandez, a central defender who has played at right back on other occasions, is coming off an injury and it’s not clear if he will be available to play.

Zidane said he may consider using forward Lucas Vazquez in defense, as he did after Carvajal had to leave the first leg because of his injury.

Madrid is trying to win a third straight European title, and fourth in five seasons. Bayern, a five-time European champion, is looking to return to the final after four seasons.

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Source: Fox Sports

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