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Bayern Munich v Atletico Madrid Champions League: Pep's side rely on home comforts to hit back

By David Walker

Published 03/05/2016

Thumbs up: Franck Ribery warms up in training yesterday for Bayern Munich's second leg battle against Atletico Madrid
Thumbs up: Franck Ribery warms up in training yesterday for Bayern Munich's second leg battle against Atletico Madrid

Bayern Munich are looking to their strength at home to overturn a 1-0 deficit to Atletico Madrid and reach the Champions League final for the second time in three years.

Since losing the 2014 semi-final to Real Madrid, Bayern have won all 11 Champions League games in Munich.

Another victory tonight would match Manchester United's record from 2006-09.

"We're very, very strong at home. That's what we're counting on," said Germany defender Jerome Boateng, who made his return on Saturday after more than three months out with a groin injury.

Against Juventus at home in March, Bayern were 2-0 down and heading for a round of 16 exit before the side came back to win 4-2 in extra time.

Another comeback in front of the home fans is expected with Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge declaring: "We'll throw everything into it with 70,000 supporters and deliver a huge fight, that I can promise you. I hope that this fight will lead us to (the final in) Milan."

Saul Niguez' brilliant early strike in the first leg in Spain is the difference between the sides and Atletico are counting on their defensive strength to see them through for what could be a repeat of the 2014 final against city rival Real Madrid. Atletico have conceded only five goals, the least in the Champions League along with Madrid, who host Manchester City for the other semi-final tomorrow.

Atletico welcome back key defender Diego Godin, who missed the first leg at the Vicente Calderon, while Yannick Carrasco was also cleared to play on Sunday after recovering from an ankle injury.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone rested most of his first-choice players over the weekend, starting only goalkeeper Jan Oblak, defenders Jose Gimenez and Juanfran Torres, and midfielder Gabi Fernandez from the side that beat Bayern in the semi-final first-leg. Atletico won 1-0 against local rivals Rayo Vallecano to stay level on points with Spanish league leaders Barcelona on Saturday.

Some 2,800 "Atleti" fans are travelling to Munich to lend their support to Simeone's side.

Bayern counterpart Pep Guardiola also rested players in Saturday's 1-1 draw at home with Borussia Moenchengladbach. Xabi Alonso and Javi Martinez were left out of the squad altogether.

Belfast Telegraph

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