James has shone at Bayern since Zidane let him leave Real on a two-year loan deal last July at the end of three often difficult seasons in Madrid.
The Colombian attacking midfielder has rediscovered his best form while playing regularly again and has the chance in Munich to show Real and Zidane what they are missing.
“James loves to play football, so of course he’ll want to play well, but not to show me or prove me wrong,” said Real coach Zidane.
“I didn’t want James to leave. He wanted more game time, which I can understand.
“I never had any problem with him, he just wanted to play.”
Madrid paid Monaco 75 million euros ($91.7m) for James after he finished top scorer at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and he made an impressive start in his first season.
However, Zidane’s appointment as Madrid coach in January 2016 set him back as the Frenchman gave him limited opportunities and often left him on the bench.
“The only reason he went was that he wanted to play more football,” said Zidane.
“I never had a problem with James, that was just something you journalists said.
“It’s the same problem every year, there are good players who have to sit on the bench and that’s sad.”
Real trail Barcelona by 15 points in La Liga and so the Champions League, which they have won in the last two seasons, is the last silverware available to them.
‘150 percent ready’
Zidane said Real are relishing the challenge against Bayern as they return to the Allianz Arena, scene of a 2-1 win in the first leg of the quarter-finals last season.
They also handed Bayern a record 4-0 home defeat in the 2014 semi-finals.
“We can’t shit our pants before a game like this, you have to enjoy it,” said Zidane with a grin.
“The players like matches like this, even if we know we will have to suffer to get a win here.
“This is a team which has been fighting at this level for a long time, it’s in the DNA of this club.
“We’ll be at 150 percent, I don’t have any doubt about that.”
Real’s goal-machine Cristiano Ronaldo scored five goals over both legs in last season’s quarter-finals when Real beat Bayern 6-3 on aggregate.
The Germans finished both legs with 10 men.
Javi Martinez was sent off in Real’s 2-1 win in Munich and Arturo Vidal also had two bookings when Bayern lost 4-2 after extra time in Madrid.
— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) April 24, 2018
However, Real’s Germany midfielder Toni Kroos, who won the 2013 Champions League title with Bayern, says the Bavarians are better than they were 12 months ago.
Under head coach Jupp Heynckes, who also steered them to the 2013 treble, Bayern wrapped up the Bundesliga title three weeks ago and are into the German Cup final.
“They won the (Bundesliga) title very early, but haven’t let up,” said Kroos.
“They are very hungry. Their shape is better than last year, they are in top form and playing more like a team under Heynckes, but we are here to change that.
“This is our last chance to win a title. We are highly motivated, as we have been the whole season long in the Champions League.
“We haven’t taken the easiest route this year with PSG (Paris Saint-Germain), Juventus and now Bayern, but we are on the verge of the final.”
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8.57pm – Alonso’s loyalties split as three former are clubs in UCL semis
This year’s Champions League semi-finals will no doubt leave Xabi Alonso with a bittersweet feeling.
The Spanish midfielder is a legend at three different clubs, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, all three of whom are in the semi-finals.
Naturally, his loyalties are divided and he’s expressed as much as well.
5.55pm – Ronaldo chasing more records ahead of Bayern clash
Ronaldo has scored 15 Champions League goals this season. The record for most goals by a player in a European competition in a single season is 18.
5.48pm – Ronaldo is the sole survivor of Real Madrid’s ‘BBC’
Ronaldo has dragged Real into the Champions League semi-finals with, even by his standards, an astonishing goal glut that includes 22 in 12 games, and at least one in each of his last 11 matches in Europe.
4.58pm – The renaissance of Real Madrid old boy James Rodriguez at Bayern and other talking points
James Rodriguez has found his feet at Bayern Munich and Alex Rea argues that could spell trouble for his former team.
In this deep dive into the main talking points ahead of the big showdown, Lewandowski and his potential ‘audition’ to play at Real next summer is also discussed as well as the downfall of the Bernabeu’s once-feted ‘BBC’.
4.17pm – Real Madrid are at full strength for Bayern Munich clash
Los Blancos have a virtually fully fit squad to choose from ahead of Wednesday’s crucial Champions League semi-final first-leg match against Bayern Munich.
Boss Zinedine Zidane will though have to decide between Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema over who starts in a forward berth alongside Cristiano Ronaldo. Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez are also in contention.
The Spanish giants became the first side to retain the European title in the Champions League era last season and are now aiming to go one better.
Defender Carvajal told the club’s website: “Nothing is impossible, we’re going to fight for it.
“We’re working hard and, if we’ve done it twice, why wouldn’t we go for that third consecutive Champions League?
“Since I’ve been here, I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to reach the semi-final every year. Every year has something special and this season more so, due the teams we’ve come up against. We’re happy and looking forward to playing the game.”
Madrid’s record extends to three triumphs in the past four seasons and 12 European titles overall.
Last year’s success came after victory over Bayern in the semi-finals.
Midfielder Dani Ceballos was not a member of the side then but is hoping history can repeat itself.
The former Real Betis player said: “This team is used to these matches in the semi-final of the Champions League.
“We’ve also played games against Bayern Munich at this level and we’ve come out on top. We hope that these semi-finals are like previous years and we can make it to the final.”