Bayern Munich boss Carlo Ancelotti would not have been encouraged by recent injury news that developed on Sunday. According to AS, both goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Mats Hummels are doubts for Wednesday’s quarter-final first leg against Real Madrid.
In truth, Neuer has been on the treatment table for quite some time. The German international underwent surgery on his toe last Friday, ruling him out of Bayern’s previous three fixtures, including the match-up against rivals Borussia Dortmund.
It was initially believed that Neuer would be fit for Bayern’s hosting of the Galacticos, but seeing as the world class shot-stopper is yet to return to training with his teammates, the likelihood of Neuer’s inclusion in the Champions League squad is doubtful at best.
To make matters worse, fellow Germany international Hummels has also succumbed to injury. Hummels, despite coming on for Javi Martinez in his side’s resounding victory over Dortmund, injured himself in training on Sunday. The ex-Dortmund captain clashed with a teammate, before departing the session on a stretcher. The full prognosis of Hummels’ injury is not yet known, although it is said that he has a “sore ankle.”
In more positive news, injury problems for two other important first team stars seem to have been resolved. Forward Douglas Costa returned from injury in the Klassiker, ensuring his availability for the Madrid clash. Meanwhile, Thomas Muller failed to feature in the same match but looks set to make a return in the aforementioned Champions League fixture.
The Bavarian giants have experienced a relatively easy domestic campaign, sitting 10 points off their nearest competitors, RG Leipzig and in Europe, the reigning Bundesliga champions are still coming down following their tremendous 10-2 aggregate victory over Arsenal.
The Champions League quarterfinal between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will also offer an intriguing duel between master and pupil.
Zinedine Zidane’s transition from retired player to successful coach at Madrid owes a lot to his time at the club under current Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti.
Come Wednesday, the former colleagues will face off in the first of two contests to determine which will guide his team to Europe’s final four.
“We’re ready for Real,” said Ancelotti, who led Madrid to the 2014 title with Zidane as his assistant, a run which included defeating Bayern 5-0 on aggregate in the semifinals.
Two years later, it was Zidane’s turn to lift the European Cup as Madrid’s manager, just four months after taking the job over from Ancelotti’s short-lived replacement, Rafa Benitez.
Besides relying on its own potent attack, Bayern will also hope that Cristiano Ronaldo continues to struggle in front of goal this season in Europe.
The Champions League’s all-time scorer with 95 career goals has only struck twice this campaign. That has allowed Barcelona rival Lionel Messi to close the gap after scoring 11 goals to take his total to 94.
Bayern arrives in fine form, enjoying a 10-point lead in the Bundesliga.