There are few, if any, more tactically aware and intelligent players in world football than Philipp Lahm and Pep Guardiola’s decision of whether to play him in defence or midfield could prove the overriding factor as to whether Bayern Munich leave Real Madrid with a positive result.
It is Real Madrid that are the favourites for victory at 13/10 and Carlo Ancelotti has guided them to 20 victories in 21 home games.
Bayern are 2/1 to triumph and the draw is on offer at 12/5.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale are expected to be fit to start for Real and there is every chance that this pair will both be told to retain advanced positions on their respective flanks and not worry about tracking their respective full-backs.
This could be significant given how much David Alaba, in particular, likes to attack from left-back at Bayern and if allowed to double up on Daniel Carvajal with Franck Ribery, Madrid will have severe problems.
However, it will be interesting if Alaba will be told to curb his enthusiasm for getting forward to focus more on preventing Bale from being afforded large amounts of space to break into.
Whether this is the case could largely be dependent on who Guardiola utilises at the base of his midfield set-up.
For example, if he starts Toni Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger as his two deeper midfielders, both are more naturally attacking players and so Alaba would presumably start deeper.
But, should Javi Martinez play in midfield or Lahm, as he did in a similar away Champions League game at Manchester City earlier this season, then they could drop back to effectively become a third central defender, giving Alaba more licence to attack.
Given Martinez hasn’t played much in midfield this season, his inclusion looks unlikely.
Lahm in midfield would give Bayern the chance to launch attacks from deep, especially as Real don’t play with a natural number 10 in their formation to efficiently nullify his space.
The problem for Guardiola is that Lahm’s assets may have a greater need at right-back, where he would surely perform better than Rafinha at keeping Cristiano Ronaldo quiet.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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