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Apr 22, 2014

Heynckes backs Bayern to beat Real

The ESPN FC crew preview Wednesday's Champions League semi-final between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Former Bayern Munich coach Jupp Heynckes believes the club he led to the European title last season will defeat Real Madrid.

Palmer: UCL talking points
Schaaf: Bayern prepare for Madrid
Rigg: Real's two-man force
Ronaldo back in training

Bayern head to the Spanish capital on Wednesday for the first leg of their semifinal encounter as they continue their bid to become the first club to retain the Champions League.

Heynckes, who led Bayern to a Treble last season and also won the 1997-98 Champions League during his solitary season in charge at Real Madrid, believes the draw has been kind to Pep Guardiola's side, particularly after the Spanish club failed to impress in squeezing past Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals.

He told L'Equipe: "It's the European clasico. Among the three opponents Bayern could have faced, Madrid is the best for them, even if -- in Carlo Ancelotti -- they have a very experienced coach who is very good tactically.

"Given their attacking potential, I'm convinced Bayern are going to score at the Bernabeu. And after seeing Madrid's display in the return leg in Dortmund, I say this team is vulnerable. Though the two games will likely be very tight, I think Bayern will have the last word."

Should Bayern defeat Madrid, as they did at the same stage of the 2011-12 competition, they will be through to European club football's showpiece occasion for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

Heynckes is, however, wary of the challenge posed by Chelsea, who face Atletico Madrid in the other semifinal.

He said: "Chelsea have a mix of experienced players like John Terry, Petr Cech, Frank Lampard, and great talents like Eden Hazard, Oscar and Andre Schuerrle. They have the potential to win the Champions League again this season, even though Bayern remain favourites."

Heynckes added that the penalty shootout defeat to the Blues in Bayern's Allianz Arena in the 2011-12 final had laid the groundwork for the unprecedented success that followed.

"Even though we lost on penalties in our own stadium, that cruel experience allowed us to bounce back by strengthening the team in a very intelligent way," he said. "If we had won that final, perhaps Bayern would not have won the Treble last season and would have been less competitive than they are right now."

He concluded: "Their squad is exceptional both in terms of quantity and quality, and the players have quite a few years ahead of them. Bayern's future is assured."

Fabio Capello, meanwhile, is tipping Real Madrid to end their long wait for a 10th European crown this season.

The Italian, who coached Madrid to two Primera Division titles during his two solitary seasons in charge at the Bernabeu, is backing compatriot Ancelotti for success.

"Everybody knows I support Real Madrid and I think they're favourites for the Champions League," Capello told Eurosport. "They've got the best squad with a great coach who knows what he wants and manages to give all of his players the tranquillity they need to express themselves on the field."

Indeed, the current Russia manager believes Ancelotti is getting the best out of one of the most feared attacks in world football.

"Just look at all the goals Cristiano Ronaldo scores with shots, deft touches, free kicks and headers," he said. "Gareth Bale needed a while to settle in, but now he's showing the Bale they knew in England and at Tottenham. And Benzema, thanks to the faith of his coach, is becoming the player everybody wanted him to be when he first signed for Real. This trio is now doing great things."

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