Bayern Munich coach, Jupp Heynckes, speaks at a press conference. Photo: REUTERS/Jon Nazca

LONDON - It's the German machine against the goal machine at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night as Bayern Munich face the tournament top scorer, Cristiano Ronaldo.

"He has had a unique career," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes on the eve of Real Madrid’s semi-final first leg with the Bundesliga champions.

"Of course we have analysed him, but the Champions League tends to be won by the most complete team who play the best football. And we should not forget that we have Robert Lewandowski, who has scored 39 goals this season."

What 72-year-old Heynckes was suggesting, ahead of his last Champions League game at the Allianz Arena before Niko Kovac takes over, was that Bayern are more of a team, whereas Real Madrid rely largely on Ronaldo. 

His incredible record against German sides certainly plays to that narrative. Ronaldo has scored 26 goals in 22 matches against them, and nine of those goals have come in six games against Bayern.

German paper TZ summed up the mood in Munich this week when it looked at decisive duels for Wednesday's game under the headline: "Martinez v Isco, Lewandowski v Ramos and Ronaldo v everyone."

Bayern defender Jerome Boateng will have the onerous task of stopping him. He told Kicker magazine this week: "No striker could be more complete than Ronaldo. He is a machine." 

He added on Tuesday: "I think Cristiano is a wonderful athlete — you can see that with the goals he scores and when he takes his shirt off. I don’t think he has any weaknesses."

Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring against Hannover 96 on Saturday. Photo: REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer
Lewandowski celebrates after scoring against Hannover 96 on Saturday. Photo: REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

But, as Heynckes pointed out, Bayern have their own prolific front man who will go into the match knowing a good performance could move him closer to a switch to Spain next season. Since resigning themselves to the fact that Harry Kane is probably not an option, Lewandowski has emerged as a Madrid transfer target to replace Karim Benzema in the summer.

"Who will stop Robert?" asked Heynckes defiantly as he fielded more questions about Ronaldo. 

Madrid know all about Lewandowski. It was five years ago that he scored four goals against them in a 4-1 semi-final first-leg win for Borussia Dortmund. Madrid, coached at the time by Jose Mourinho, could only win the second leg 2-0 and went out. 

"Madrid are the favourites but just because they are favourites does not mean they will go through," said the Polish forward.

A further intriguing sub-plot will be James Rodriguez’s chance to show Real Madrid what a mistake they made when they loaned him to Bayern Munich.

Rodriguez won two Champions League medals with Madrid and a league title, but he fell out of favour with Zinedine Zidane and is on a two-year loan deal that should end in Bayern buying him permanently in 2019.

If Rodriguez puts Madrid out he will be following in the footsteps of Fernando Morientes and Alvaro Morata. Morientes scored crucial goals to knock Real out when on loan at Monaco in 2004, and Morata did the same after being sold to Juve in 2015.

Heynckes can complete a remarkable treble tonight. He won the trophy with Bayern in 2013 and also won it in 1998 — coaching Real Madrid, and against a Juventus team that included Zidane, no less.

On Tuesday Zidane was asked by a reporter about memories of previous battles between the two sides. The journalist said: "In Germany they used to say that every time Real Madrid came here they would sh*t their trousers." 

But the Real Madrid coach replied: "Anything can happen but one thing that won’t happen is this 'sh*tting the trousers'. We love playing these big games. It’s completely the opposite. As a manager, player or fan, it’s great to play these matches."

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter