Bayern Munich’s Champions League semifinal draw against Real Madrid was greeted with relief by German media, while the club's players and officials believe their chances are 50/50 that they can make it to the final for the fourth time in five years.
German broadsheet Die Welt turned things around and headlined "La Bestia Negra -- hammer draw for Real Madrid," while the tabloid Bild led with "Bayern have to take on Ronaldo," wiping away all doubts about the injured 2013 Ballon d’Or winner.
In a first comment, the website of the German football weekly kicker also referred to Bayern’s nickname in Spain.
"In Spain, the respect for FC Bayern is huge. Awestruck, they call Munich 'La Bestia Negra,'" the comment read.
Real Madrid! Ein tolles Los! Ich freu mich auf zwei packende Duelle mit vielen Weltklassespielern!— Thomas Müller (@esmuellert_) April 11, 2014
"Real Madrid! A great draw! I am looking forward to two exciting ties with a lot of world class players," Bayern Munich midfielder Thomas Mueller tweeted.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer -- among several Bayern players to give initial comments to the club's official website -- said that he is looking forward to returning to the Bernabeu once again, after they won a shootout there to reach the final in 2012.
"That semifinal, two years ago, we won after penalties was madness," Neuer said.
Bayern captain Phillip Lahm added: "This semifinal could also be a final. Chances are 50/50. But once you are in a Champions League semifinal you only have one goal: To make it to the final. With a vengeance"
Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was quoted by Bild as saying: "We are expecting two difficult ties, 50/50 matches. Our coach will be delighted, because he knows Real from his time in Spain. Real have a great team. It’s not a team that will park the bus and destroy the match. The fans can look forward to the games."
Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer said: "That is a fantastic semifinal. Two great teams with a lot of tradition meet. Bayern against Real -- there is nothing better in European football right now. We want to come out on top and reach the final, no doubt about that."
Spain international Javi Martinez, who joined Bayern from Athletic Bilbao in 2012, showed a lot of respect for Los Blancos.
"Real was the strongest team we could have met," he said. "It will be difficult. But I trust our team. Back in Spain I lost a lot of matches against Real with Bilbao, with Bayern I am hoping for a turn around."
France international Franck Ribery said that the "two strongest attacking teams in the world will meet." The 2013 UEFA European Player of the Year, who was on the shortlist for the 2013 Ballon d'Or but lost out to Real's Cristiano Ronaldo, added: "These will be two incredible games. I hope that we can make it into the final."
Bayern’s finance executive Andreas Jung told Sky that memories of the 2012 semifinals, when FC Bayern beat Los Blancos after penalties, are still fresh. "It will be a tight match. It’s a 50/50 chance," he said.