Millennium Post

Battle of familiar foes headlines Champions League bill

Battle of familiar foes headlines Champions League bill
Carlo Ancelotti led Real Madrid to Champions League glory in 2014 and now he is hoping to dump the holders out of this season's quarter-finals as coach of Bayern Munich.

The two giants are familiar foes and they meet for the 23rd time — a record in European competition — at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday in the first leg of a heavyweight tie.

Madrid traditionally have fared very poorly in visits to Germany and Bayern are unbeaten at home in more than a year, winning their last seven on the bounce before their own fans. Bayern fans will never forget their crushing 4-0 loss to Ancelotti's Madrid in the 2014 semi-finals, however, the result remaining their heaviest home loss in Europe. Having masterminded the Spanish side's run to glory that campaign, Ancelotti was brought in to Bayern to take them all the way in a competition in which they suffered three straight semi-final losses under Pep Guardiola.

His opposite number this midweek will be Zinedine Zidane, his former assistant who led Madrid to Champions League glory last season.

"Your experience as a player is only partially useful when you become a manager, because you also have to study, you have to keep up to date and gain your own experiences, and Zidane has done that," Ancelotti said in an interview with "He's charismatic and the players really respect him, and that's very important."

The two sides, top of their respective leagues, both come into the game with defensive worries. Already without Raphael Varane, Madrid saw Pepe suffer two fractured ribs in Saturday's 1-1 derby draw with Atletico Madrid. Meanwhile, centre-back Mats Hummels is out after he injured an ankle in training on Sunday, a day after Bayern crushed Borussia Dortmund 4-1.

After their unforgettable comeback to beat Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16, Barcelona head to Turin for a clash with Italian champions Juventus. The Catalans, who won the last of their five European Cups with a victory over Juve in the 2015 final, are not in the best shape heading into the tie after a 2-0 loss at Malaga on Saturday seriously damaged their La Liga title hopes.
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