MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 18: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid looks up to where is mother is seated as he celebrates scoring his sides opening goal during the Copa del Rey quarter final match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 18, 2012 in Madrid, Spain.
Six to watch
Real Madrid are riding high after beating Barcelona and all but ensuring themselves of the Spanish league title on Saturday. But they host a tough Bayern side that is smarting from having conceded the Bundesliga crown to Dortmund — and is eager to play for the European Cup at home in their own Allianz Arena. This is a massive clash, and here are the six men you must watch on Wednesday.
Franck Ribery, W, Bayern Munich
What a week: Ribery sparked Bayern to a deserved 2-1 win over real to put his team in the driver’s seat…and then was fined $66,000 for punching his teammate, Arjen Robben, at the half of the same match. This is all in a day’s work for the mercurial but magical midfielder who can burn past players and change games with a single kick. He’s going to have to have a repeat of last Tuesday’s commanding performance for the Bavarians to progress.
Manuel Neuer, GK, Bayern Munich
Germany’s number one made the big saves last week and had the men in front of him playing a smart, sharp game. He has to do the same again against Real’s hydra-headed attack that will be feeling they can score against anyone. An excellent shot-stopper, Neuer is difficult to beat on any day of the week.
Bastian Schweinsteiger, MF, Bayern Munich
Efficient and classy, Schweinsteiger is Bayern’s x-factor. When he’s on the field, they look confident at the back and slick out wide. When he’s out, they look a bit lost. He went the full 90 against Werder Bremen Saturday and is expected to go the distance in Madrid.
Cristiano Ronaldo, F, Real Madrid
La Liga’s scoring leader, and certainly the Spanish Player of Year, Ronaldo finally shook a big monkey off his back on Saturday. Long-derided for disappearing in big games, Ronaldo showed up against Barcelona, and how. He wasn’t as effective against a Bayern side that didn’t leave him much room or time to operate, but he is in hot form and should be feeling he can win this one for his team.
Fabio Coentrao, D, Real Madrid
The defender had a shockingly poor game last week as he was repeatedly torched by Ribery and Robben and hauled up and out of position from almost the opening whistle. He’s likely to get a run out again here as well, and he has to be more affective and attentive next to Sergio Ramos this time out.
Jose Mourinho, Manager, Real Madrid
Mourinho got it wrong at the Allianz last week…but got things exactly right Saturday to snatch a very rare win over his arch-rivals. He’s now got seven league titles (across four nations) and you have think the Special One’s confidence will be at an all-time high. He’s got to put faith in Mesut Ozil Wednesday and shore up that dreadful left flank — but if Madrid can take the ball away as early and often as they did against Barcelona on Saturday, they can do the same to the Germans.