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Thursday 23 November 2017

Zidane warns Real of big Lewandowski threat

Real Madrid v Bayern Live Eir Sp 1/BT Sp 3, KO 7.45

Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. Photo: GETTY
Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski. Photo: GETTY

Real Madrid know the return of Robert Lewandowski to the Bayern Munich side would make what looks on paper a straightforward Champions League task a whole lot more complicated.

Madrid go into the second leg of their quarter-final at the Bernabeu tonight boasting a 2-1 lead from the away leg, leaving the Germans with a mountain to climb in the Spanish capital.

The visitors need to score at least twice to progress and, given no team has been able to stop Madrid from scoring this season and the fact Zinedine Zidane's men are averaging almost three goals a game this term, in all likelihood more than that.

But the likely return of striker Lewandowski from the shoulder injury that ruled him out of the Allianz Arena clash makes such a scenario eminently possible.

Madrid themselves will be without Gareth Bale with a calf problem picked up in the first leg, which has also made him a doubt for Sunday's heavyweight LaLiga clash with Barcelona, but the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo means he will be nothing like the loss Lewandowski was for Bayern in Munich.

The Poland striker, who has 15 goals in his last 11 club games, will face a fitness test on Monday night, but has already all but declared himself fit.

"Lewandowski is a real number nine and a bonus for Bayern," Madrid coach Zidane said at a press conference.

He added: "Bayern have a great team in all departments so we have to be focused on what we have to do. We know that they have a lot of ways to cause problems for their opponents and they also have flaws."

The fact is, though, that Lewandowski is key for Bayern, more so than even Ronaldo, whose two first-leg goals turned that game in Madrid's favour, is for the hosts.

Lewandowski trained with the team with no problems on Sunday, saying afterwards that he was "fine".

For Madrid the match comes five days before a Clasico which could go a long way to deciding the outcome of the title race, with the capital club boasting a three-point lead over Barca, with a game in hand.

But Zidane urged his team to first spare no effort in attempting to seal their last-four spot in Europe. "We have to have a great game and be very strong," he said.

"We will go out to win the game and we'll not gamble. The first leg has already been played and we know the problems Bayern will create, they'll make it difficult until the referee blows for full time."

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