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Apr 22, 2014

How Bayern can slow Ronaldo-Bale

Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale have scored a combined 42 La Liga goals this season.

Throughout most of the 2013-14 season, Bayern Munich has been viewed as the best team in Europe. The results have backed up that claim, as the team secured the Bundesliga title before the start of April.

Since clinching the Bundesliga, Bayern manager Pep Guardiola has been fixated on advancing in the UEFA Champions League, and the team now faces a semifinal matchup with a Real Madrid team headlined by world-class attackers Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. These players have combined to score 45 percent of Madrid’s domestic goals, and even though Guardiola sports an all-time record of nine wins, four draws and just two losses against Los Blancos, his Bayern team has yet to face a pair of attackers who are as capable of changing the course of a game as Ronaldo and Bale.

Guardiola has likely put an extreme amount of thought into how he can contain these two players, and doing that involves some combination of cutting off the service from the players giving them the ball, limiting each player’s options when he has the ball and ultimately forcing Bale and Ronaldo into situations where they try to do too much by themselves.

Here is a look at how Bayern will try to contain these two world-class players, and in turn improve their own chances of advancing to the Champions League finals and repeating as UCL champs.

Occupy Madrid’s outside backs

Arguably the most important matchups in this semifinal series will be along the flanks, where Bayern attackers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben will look to keep Madrid defenders Daniel Carvajal and Marcelo occupied defensively.

These are important matchups because Ronaldo receives more pass...