Feuding giants Real, Bayern meet again
MUNICH - Reuters
Bayern Munich’s Dutch midfielder Arjen Robben celebrates after scoring the 1-0 during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg match of FC Bayern Muenchen vs FC Basel on March 13, 2012 in Munich, southern Germany. AFP PHOTO / GUENTER SCHIFFMANNFrom Juanito stamping on Lothar Matthaeus’ head to an entire team storming off the pitch in a friendly, there is no love lost between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, who resume their bitter rivalry tonight.
The luck of the draw has ensured a five-year truce between the two swaggering giants, who have been European champions 13 times between them.
But the peace will be shattered when they clash at the Allianz Arena in their Champions League semifinal first leg.
It will be their fifth semifinal meeting in Europe’s top club competition and offers Real Madrid, well on course to win La Liga, the chance to bring Bayern’s season to a miserable conclusion.
The Bavarians have already seen their Bundesliga title challenge fizzle out and are now playing to keep alive their dream of playing the Champions League final in their own stadium.
There is an endless list of ingredients to spice up an encounter whose history of violence, slanging matches and red cards would not be out of place in South America.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes and forward Arjen Robben both have scores to settle, having left the Bernabeu through the back door after their spells at Real.
Heynckes was the coach who ended Real’s 32-year wait for their sixth European Cup title in 1997/98 yet despite this was removed.
Dutchman Robben was booted out after being told he was not wanted by club president Florentino Perez.
The pre-match comments have been the usual banal fare with players and officials offering respect for the opposition and playing down rivalries.
“There are a lot of elements to take into consideration and the first of those is Bayern’s history,” said Real director Emilio Butragueno.
“They are a club with great pride and they know this is probably their last chance to end the season on a high, not to mention the fact that the final is at their stadium.
“As professionals and as a team they will want to prove their mettle and they will try their hardest against Real Madrid.” Yet Butragueno is all too aware of the bitterness between the two clubs, having played for Real during the 1980s.
The first meeting between the two sides, in the 1975/76 semi-finals, set the tone.
Real’s Roberto Martinez broke his nose in a collision with Bayern goalkeeper Sepp Maier and a fan known as “El Loco del Bernabeu” (The Bernabeu madman) ran onto the pitch and attacked the referee and Bayern striker Gerd Mueller.
Bayern went on to the win the competition for the third year in a row.
Their next competitive meeting, another semi-final 11 years later when Bayern again won, brought the infamous incident where Juanito stamped on the back and then the head of Matthaeus while a team mate kicked the German playmaker’s thigh.
Juanito, who died in a car crash in 1992 at the age of 37, was given a five-year European ban.
Even when the matches were supposedly friendly, there was trouble.
In 1981, Bayern’s entire team stormed off the pitch during a match in Real’s pre-season Santiago Bernabeu trophy tournament after they had a player sent off for making obscene gestures to fans.
It got little better during Real’s so-called Galacticos era when Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn became public enemy number one among Real fans, while the Spaniards were seen in Bavaria as showboaters.
Before a first knockout round meeting in 2004, Bayern’s Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro said: “We’re going to score five goals against those clowns.”
It brought a predictably furious reaction from Spain but Real had the last laugh, winning 2-1 on aggregate.
There was none of the trash talk from Bayern’s Bastian Schweinsteiger following Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Mainz 05.
“It’s all or nothing on Tuesday,” he said, aware that Bayern have won eight and drawn one of nine home meetings against Real.
“We have to go to the limit and beyond, but we can do it with our fans behind us. It won’t be easy and it comes down to mental strength. I hope we show the mentality which marks Bayern out.”