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Bayern represent Madrid's first big test on 'a night for the brave'

LetâÂÂs face it, Real Madrid have had a bit of cosy time of it in the Champions League so far this season.

Unlike the other Spanish sides to enter the competition, they haven't had to deal with testing tussles against the likes of Milan, Chelsea or Manchester City. Instead, José MourinhoâÂÂs men merely had to dispose of Dinamo Zagreb, Ajax and Lyon in the group stages and then CSKA Moscow and APOEL in the knock-out rounds. They could almost have done it with one hand behind their backs while humming a chirpy little ditty. Indeed, thatâÂÂs how LLL imagines Kaká approaching every game heâÂÂs played in this season.

So the question being asked in Spain ahead of Tuesday's semi-final first leg trip to Germany is not just what will happen when Real Madrid come up against Bayern Munich - a team the Spanish side have traditionally struggled against having lost ten of their 18 meetings - but what will happen when the Spanish league leaders come up against a decent team, full stop.

One theory suggests the players may well have a few problems, as they have done in their last few meetings with Barcelona, and more recently in their draws against Valencia and Málaga in the Santiago Bernabeu.

However, on another day the chances created in both those matches would have gone in, Real Madrid would have an eight point lead at the top of the table and Bayern would be quivering in their Bavarian booties at the thought of the mighty Spanish side turning up on their doorstep. After all, just because Madrid havenâÂÂt had the chance to take on anyone tough the Champions League doesnâÂÂt necessarily mean that they wonâÂÂt beat them comfortably when they do.


Jose's habit of listening to JLS during press conferences went down badly

AS have billed Tuesday evening's fixture as âÂÂa night for the braveâÂÂ, with a picture of Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas holding thumbs aloft, accompanied by an editorial fretting over the traditional dangers posed by Bayern Munich. âÂÂBayern Munich is the only team in Europe where Real Madrid has a losing balance after facing them a sufficient number of times, not just occasionally.âÂÂ

MarcaâÂÂs front cover has a photograph of the view that faces the players when entering the Allianz Arena pitch in Munich with the headline, âÂÂstairway to gloryâ in big, shiny letters. Inside, the paper reports a confident José Mourinho claiming âÂÂIâÂÂve spent a long time preparing for this game and I have everything clear.âÂÂ

What was unusual about that statement was the fact that the Madrid manager was talking at all, considering the Portuguese has been keeping a happy silence over the past few weeks in la Liga, with Mourinho apparently unable to go a whole 10 minutes without complaining about refereeing decisions. âÂÂToday UEFA make me speak,â noted the former Chelsea manager.

The visiting coach was unable to stop himself when asked about Howard Webb, who is charge of TuesdayâÂÂs clash, and Mourinho seems quite satisfied with the appointment. âÂÂAs aways, my players are going to help him and I hope everything goes well,â promised Mourinho with an admirably straight face.

Although LLL likes sitting on the fence as much as the next blog, itâÂÂs going to go for one of its comfortingly incorrect predictions and fall into the âÂÂjust because they havenâÂÂt played anyone decent, it doesnâÂÂt mean that wonâÂÂt beat anyone decentâ camp and go for a cheeky 2-1 away win, which would see Madrid put one foot in the final, and a return to Munich.

TACTICAL PREVIEWMichael Cox on Bayern v Real Madrid