Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid need to be wary of early Bayern Munich onslaught

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Zidane is seeking to win third Champions League crown as a manager.

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid renew their titanic European rivalry on Wednesday night in what will be a record 25th meeting between the two heavyweights.

Los Blancos, the back-to-back Champions League holders, are the favourites to advance over two legs and dismiss the Germans like they did last season at the quarter-final stage.

But, this is far from a foregone conclusion.

Here, we look at some of the key tactical talking points.

Knockout king Zinedine Zidane needs to be wary

The Frenchman has often be described as a lucky manager but a more appropriate description would be ruthless. Zidane has never lost a Champions League knockout tie nor decisive matches in the European Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup. Like his skill on the pitch during his playing days, Zidane has the Midas touch and has improved tactically, too – the way Madrid contained Juventus in Turin and then hit them with quality at the top of the pitch being proof of that.

Facing a strong Bayern side for a second successive season is a different proposition altogether though and the Germans will be confident of getting at the Whites with pace and power this time around, like the Old Lady almost deployed decisively in the second leg. The manner of that display at the Bernabeu will have truly worried Zidane and his job may still be on the line should his players and game plan not respond against a treble-chasing opponent that should be ready to go for the jugular.

As we saw during the last-eight phase, a tie is far from over even if one side does own a substantial away goals advantage.

Bayern to test Madrid with wing play and direct thinking

Veteran manager Jupp Heynckes will be relishing this occasion against his old club in his final season as a manager and will no doubt inform his players that if they press high and look to get at Madrid’s full-backs in the shape of Dani Carvajal and Marcelo, then they can have some joy.

The key will also be to step onto the toes of Isco, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric and look to spread the play to the wings against a Madrid team which is not blessed with pace. Quick and early passes out wide to the likes of Thomas Muller and Franck Ribery should put plenty of pressure on steady central defensive pair Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. The duo, themselves, will be occupied with containing the movement and cleverness of Robert Lewandowski.

Those two moves should also create an element of freedom for James Rodriguez – who on his day – is as good as any other No.10 at delivering a killer pass and game-turning moment. This has the making of a Fernando Morientes-Monaco saga, part two.

Bayern Munich's German head coach Jupp Heynckes listens during a press conference at the stadium in Munich, southern Germany, on April 24, 2018 on the eve of the UEFA Champions League first leg semi-final football match between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)

Jupp Heynckes is calling it a day at the end of the season.

Containing threat of Cristiano Ronaldo

The Whites legend has been in unstoppable this term having netted 15 times in 10 Champions League appearances and remarkably keeps raising his level. Right-back Joshua Kimmich and right-sided centre-back Jerome Boateng will be charged with tracking Ronaldo’s forays and threat down the left-hand part of the pitch. That, though, is easier said than done as the 33-year-old drifts centrally and is a master at timing his bursts of speed and movement.

Bayern need hustle and bustle to cut off the supply line to Ronaldo’s feet and isolate him centrally, especially as he seems to be running directly at defenders less these days, especially in Europe, averaging just over two dribbles per game in the competition this term. With Karim Benzema’s lack of movement and pace failing to make an impact in behind, intercepting Madrid’s midfield play early and limiting both the Frenchman and Ronaldo’s time on the ball could be crucial.

Cristiano Ronaldo.

Can’t stop scoring: Ronaldo.

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