Gareth Bale declares himself fit for Bayern Munich showdown

Real Madrid are eyeing their 10th European crown and lead 1-0 from the first leg

 Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale holds off Javi Martinez  as Philipp Lahm slides in during last week’s first-leg game at the Bernabeu.

Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale holds off Javi Martinez as Philipp Lahm slides in during last week’s first-leg game at the Bernabeu.

Tue, Apr 29, 2014, 01:00

Gareth Bale has declared himself fit and ready to play in tonight’s Champions League semi-final at Bayern Munich after missing Real Madrid’s 4-0 league win over Osasuna at the weekend due to flu.

“I feel good. I’ve had a few days training,” Bale said yesterday. “I’m hoping to play tomorrow and looking forward to it. We are ready to give it 100 percent, our best shot. I don’t feel like we’ve qualified for the final yet.”

Real are eyeing their 10th European crown and lead 1-0 from the first leg in Madrid last week.

Bale had been rested for Saturday’s league win but is expected to feature in the starting lineup in Munich alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, who netted twice against Osasuna.

Real will need all their firepower as the Germans plan an all-out assault to score more than one goal against a team that kept them at bay in the first leg and are extremely dangerous on the counter attack.

They are also out to take revenge for their semi-final defeat on penalties to the Germans at the same stage two years ago.

“We have a slight advantage from the first leg coming here but that is it,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said yesterday.

“We know tomorrow’s game is going to be very difficult. We are not that stupid as to think we have already qualified.”

Ancelotti said he expected Bayern again to go out to dominate possession, as in the first leg, with Real lurking on the break. The Bavarians enjoyed close to 65 percent possession in Madrid – some 78 percent in the first half alone – but did not make that advantage count.

“I don’t think tactically the game is going to change a lot tomorrow. Bayern have their footballing philosophy, but I don’t think tactics will be all-important,” the Italian said. “I actually think the mental side of things will be more important.

Rocky end
Bayern have had a rocky end to their Bundesliga season after clinching the title in record time with seven games to spare. They have conceded two goals or more in three of their last four league games, having lost two of them.

“We need to start stronger, and must make a big effort. We will need maximum effort from everyone in order to reach the final,” Ancelotti said.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola is banking on Franck Ribery to rise to the occasion and inspire his side to a second-leg fightback. Ribery was criticised for his performance in Spain when the Germans lacked a cutting edge, but he shone in Saturday’s 5-2 Bundesliga win over Werder Bremen and Guardiola is expecting him to play another starring role on Tuesday.

“Franck played like he was possessed at the weekend,” Guardiola said. “He fights and fights and for this reason the people love him here at the Allianz Arena. He is one of the best players in the history of Bayern Munich and we need his help.”

Bayern are only without defender Daniel van Buyten, with the Germans able to rest the likes of Arjen Robben, Philipp Lahm and Mario Gotze at the weekend ahead of their biggest match of the season.

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