Franck Ribery of Bayern scores the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between FC Bayern Muenchen and Real Madrid at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany. Real Madrid and Bayern meet again on April 25, 2012. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Bayern Munich hold a fragile-looking 2-1 lead over Real Madrid halfway through their UEFA Champions League semifinal. Who'll make it through?
And now it's crunch time. Real Madrid and Bayern Munich face off Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu. At stake is a place in the Champions League final. Last week, Bayern won 2-1 at the Allianz Arena, a result about as neutral you can get as far as two-legged ties are concerned. The visitors have a one-goal lead, but Real Madrid have an away goal, so they're probably just as happy with the score as the Germans.
Although the two sides' European fortunes are essentially similar, one's doing far better than the other in domestic competition. Real Madrid's 2-1 win at Barcelona -- an amazing feat for Jose Mourinho's men -- opened up a seven-point cushion at the top of the table and puts them in prime position to take the La Liga title. On the same day that Madrid produced its historic result, Bayern Munich found themselves on the outside looking in, as Borussia Dortmund successfully defended their Bundesliga crown with a 2-0 win against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Bayern Munich would desperately love to make up for their poor domestic performance by winning the Champions League final, a competition in which BVB fell flat on their face. Becoming European Champions on their own ground would be a spectacular way to make up for their league woes, and you'd have to imagine that Jupp Heynckes' men will be going all-out to make things happen.
But that doesn't mean that Real don't want to raise the Champions League trophy just as badly. Although they've all but bested Barcelona in La Liga, they'll want to show off their dominance with continental triumph as well. This is the competition that Jose Mourinho was brought in to win, and he's not far away from it now.
With Bayern resting a number of players that started last Tuesday for their 2-1 win over Werder Bremen, expect a similar lineup to the one we saw last time out, with the possible exception of Thomas Muller in for the barely-fit Bastian Schweinsteiger. Real, on the other hand, may need to freshen things up. They've had a reasonable break, but the same lineup has started two matches in a row, and Mourinho may want to use the likes of Gonzalo Higuain or Kaka to get some fresh legs out onto the pitch.
Projected Bayern Munich Lineup (4-2-3-1):
Game Date/Time: Wedneday, April 25, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain
TV: FX (U.S. - English), FOX Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), Sportsnet HD (Canada), ITV 1 (U.K.)
We'll have pre-game and live game coverage in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.