Three things Real Madrid must do to reach the UEFA Champions League final

Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid will have to go past Bayern Munich to book a place in the UEFA Champions League final.

Real Madrid are just one step away from yet another UEFA Champions League final. The record champions of the competition have the opportunity to make it 15 titles to their name. But, before they compete in the final, they have to make a big effort to go past Bayern Munich.

The first leg between the two teams ended in a 2-2 draw. While Real Madrid did avoid a defeat and the draw is considered a favourable result for them, the job is far from done. They are all set to host Bayern Munich at Santiago Bernabeu and are surely favourites heading into the second leg.

But, the Merengues are squaring up against a team that has caused a lot of problems to them in the past. Los Blancos might have gone past Bayern in the last three knockout ties between the two teams. But they are going up against a team led by Thomas Tuchel, who, against all odds, guided Chelsea to the Champions League title in the recent past.

Tuchel has it in him to guide his team through difficult games, and his team will surely cause a lot of problems for Real Madrid. The Hard Tackle takes a look at things the home side must do to go past the Bayern Munich challenge and make it to the final, which will be played at Wembley in London.

Carlo Ancelotti should not rush Thibaut Courtois & Eder Militao into the XI

Thibaut Courtois & Eder Militao have both been mainstays in the Real Madrid team in recent years. They have been guaranteed starters under Carlo Ancelotti. But long-term injuries have kept them out of action for the majority of the season.

However, with the duo back fit, the Italian tactician has a lot to think about. While he will be tempted to use his stars to go past Bayern, the Real Madrid boss should avoid using them from the start in the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg.

No doubt Eder Militao has played a lot of minutes in La Liga of late. But he has not looked convincing enough and was not at his best against Cadiz in their last outing. While his body can surely cope with 90 minutes of football, the intensity of this fixture is a lot higher than any normal league game. It might demand a lot more physically which could cause problems for the Brazilian centre-back.

Last week, Ancelotti ensured that Andriy Lunin will start the second leg vs Bayern Munich. But recent reports have suggested that they are considering going ahead with Thibaut Courtois on the back of his impressive return to action against Cadiz.

Courtois is one of the best goalkeepers in the world, and it is normal to imagine having him in goal for such a big clash. But, he has not been in the thick of things for a while now. Even a single error could end up having a significant impact on the end result, which is why it is better to have Lunin in goal. He has been a consistent performer and will be high on confidence as he prepares for probably the biggest game of his life.

Aurelien Tchouameni in the heart of the defence

Nacho started alongside Antonio Rudiger at the heart of the Real Madrid defence for the first leg at the Allianz Arena, and he did not really do much wrong in the game. The 34-year-old was not at fault for both the goals that the team in white conceded on the night.

But minutes after Rea; Madrid went 2-1 down, they brought on Eduardo Camavinga for Nacho. The Frenchman took over as the defensive midfielder, and Aurelien Tchouameni was moved into the heart of the defence.

Deploying Tchouameni as a centre-back and Camavinga as a defensive midfielder will allow Real Madrid to be a bit more attacking and at the same time have more control of the ball. Ancelotti has already asked the 24-year-old to fill in as a centre-back on multiple occasions in the past, and he has not disappointed him.

The Italian tactician should once again ask the French international to give up his preferred position and play in an unfamiliar territory for the team. His presence at the back adds more pace at the back which will help deal with Bayern’s lightning-fast wingers.

While Eder Militao is back fit and Nacho has not done much else wrong, Tchouameni should start as the centre-back as he will give Real Madrid more control, allow them to be a bit more attacking and add pace to the back line.

Shifting back to a 4-4-2 with a diamond in the midfield

The 4-4-2 diamond with Jude Bellingham as the attacking midfielder has been the go-to formation for Real Madrid throughout the season. Ancelotti has shifted to a 4-2-3-1 formation in big games to give his team more defensive cover at the back.

In the games against Manchester City and the first leg against Bayern Munich, Real Madrid did not line up in a 4-4-2, it was a 4-2-3-1 with Toni Kroos and Aurelien Tchouameni as the double pivot, with Federico Valverde and Rodrygo Goes out wide. Bellingham was the number 10 behind Vinicius Junior, who led the line.

This formation allowed his team to have a great defensive cover as Valverde and Rodrygo were constantly helping the full-backs deal with the Bayern Munich wingers. The away leg demanded a better defensive structure to ensure Die Roten did not come out with a significant lead.

In the second leg at home, Real Madrid should look to attack from the start, and that is why they need to shift back to a 4-4-2, where the defence will be protected by a three-man midfield. Bellingham will feature in behind the attacking duo of Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo Goes.

This formation will give Vinicius the opportunity to take on Joshua Kimmich, who is expected to be Bayern Munich’s right-back. While Kimmich is technically amongst the best in the game, the Brazilian will surely have the advantage of pace. Rodrygo playing on the right will give the team in white a better chance of containing Alphonso Davies will look to join Serge Gnabry in attack whenever possible.

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