Sport ‘Madrid will reach the final – and they’ll play Barcelona’

‘Madrid will reach the final – and they’ll play Barcelona’

Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Bodo Illgner
Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Bodo Illgner

Former Real Madrid goalkeeper Bodo Illgner says the holders will overcome Juventus and meet Barcelona in the Champions League final.

Madrid find themselves 2-1 down to the Italian champions ahead of the semi-final second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu, while Liga leaders Barcelona took a huge stride towards the showpiece in Berlin with a 3-0 win over Bayern Munich.

And Illgner, who twice won the tournament with los Blancos, is confident the final this season will see the Clasico clubs go head-to-head.

“At home, Real will do it,” he told Goal. “At the Bernabeu they have a power, the atmosphere will be gigantic.

“For the whole club, the Champions League has the highest priority. Real will reach the final and will play against Barcelona.”

Illgner, who won the 1990 World Cup with West Germany, insists Bayern were not overly cautious in the first leg but accepts Pep Guardiola’s system is blighted by the absence of the injured Arjen Robben.

“It wasn’t a fraidy-cat performance,” he said. “In the end the result doesn’t reflect the game.

“What surprised me is that they gave away a good position within a few minutes. Sure, Barca’s win was deserved, because they created more pressure and more chances. But a three-goal margin was too big.

“His [Guardiola’s] philosophy is based on special players. At Barcelona it was [Lionel] Messi, at Bayern it is Robben and [Franck] Ribery. They do things unlike anyone else.

“Every coach lives like this. Guardiola lived on Messi, now he lives on Ribery and Robben. This is normal.

“Without Ribery and Robben they are missing the moment of surprise. These two players can decide a game and can create an imbalance down the sides of the opposition. With them, Bayern would have scored a goal [at Camp Nou], because Barcelona are vulnerable.

“Without them, Bayern were missing dynamism. Possession is nice. But you need to use it to create chances.”

Illgner played with Iker Casillas as he broke into the Real Madrid first team and he believes the club captain has never quite recovered from his treatment at the hands of Jose Mourinho.

“The time with Mourinho left marks on him. Mourinho was the first coach to scratch Casillas. He didn’t have the support he did in the past. The fans are also divided. You see the uncertainty in the club and in the stadium surrounding Casillas.”

The 48-year-old also believes Carlo Ancelotti is paying the price for a lack of rotation this season, with Luka Modric and potentially Karim Benzema missing and Toni Kroos nursing a knock.

“He rotated too little and has played too often with the same team,” Illgner added. “You can hold this against him.

“Kroos was overplayed in the second half of the season and is not so strong. But his first year was outstanding. He is a very important player, especially without Luka Modric.

“You also see a lack of fitness with Gareth Bale, so the critics are going too far. He showed last year what he could do when he is 100 per cent fit. If he isn’t, he loses one essential element: his punch.”

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