Real return fires up Bayern’s Alonso, Ancelotti

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By AFP
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Bayern Munich’s Carlo Ancelotti and Xabi Alonso are relishing facing their former club Real Madrid when two of the favourites for the Champions League title clash in the quarter-finals.

Holders Real play Bayern away on Wednesday April 12 at Munich’s Allianz Arena with the return at Madrid’s Bernabeu six days later in a clash of Europe’s titans.

Ancelotti led 11-time winners Real to their tenth Champions League title — ‘La Decima’ — in 2014 with Alonso, who was suspended for the Lisbon final, urging his side on before he joined Bayern for the 2014/15 season.

“It is going to be exciting to play against them. We are very confident and want to win the Champions League this season,” said Ancelotti, who also won the European title twice with AC Milan in 2003 and 2007.

“I think we have the ability to beat Real Madrid.”

There will be a master verses pupil clash when Bayern take on Real.

Real’s current coach Zinedine Zidane was Ancelotti’s assistant when Madrid lifted the European title three years ago by beating Atletico Madrid 4-1 after extra-time in the final.

Zidane then matched Ancelotti by winning the Champions League in his debut season as head coach last year.

Another side plot to the mouth-watering quarter-final sees Bayern’s defensive midfielder Alonso face former team-mates.

Alonso, who also won the 2005 Champions League title with Liverpool, will retire in June and wants to hang up his boots by winning the European title with his third club in the final in Cardiff on June 3.

He clearly has no desire to bow out in his final season at the hands of Real’s stars such as Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo.

“Wow! It will be a great quarter-final between two historic clubs,” said Alonso, 35, who won the 2010 World Cup with Spain.

“It is perhaps the hardest possible draw, but in the quarter-finals all opponents are hard.

“For me, of course this is a special game.

“I’m glad to be able to play in Madrid again, but I also know the Bernabeu is always a difficult place to go, but first we have a home game.

“We want to continue our strong series before our own fans and get a good result.

“We know Madrid well and will be ready.”

Bayern are on a Champions League record run of 17 consecutive home wins, but have a score to settle with Real.

They were the last team to win a European match in Munich when Pep Guardiola’s Bayern was thrashed 4-0 in the 2014 semi-finals — with Ancelotti in charge of Real — as Sergio Ramos and Ronaldo scored twice.

In the past, Real fans regarded Bayern as ‘La Bestia Negra’, the black beast who used to knock their club out of Europe and Munch’s Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer believes Zidane’s squad are not relishing the tie.

“We have the coach who knows the Real team the best, they are an interesting and difficult opponent,” said Neuer.

“I don’t think Real will be pleased to face Bayern, but to play against Real is always something special.

“It’s a 50/50 game and nuances will decide it.”

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is relishing a ‘classic’ as his five-time winners target more than just a sixth straight semi-final appearance.

Rummenigge says the fact that no team has ever defended the Champions League title plays into Bayern’s hands.

“The chances are 50/50, but there is this old rule that the Champions League winner doesn’t defend his title, so that says nothing against Bayern Munich (going through),” he quipped.

The German giants in-form attacking midfielder Thiago Alcantara is looking forward to his team measuring themselves against the holders.

“It’s about facing the reigning title holders and one of the best teams in Europe,” said Bayern’s Spain international.

“There will surely be two great games.

“We don’t care that we will play them first at home. We are delighted and have to prepare ourselves well.”


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