Bayern Munich have played arguably the best football in entire Europe this season and have certainly been the most destructive team.
Last summer Pep Guardiola took over a side that had just won the Bundesliga, the Champions League and the DFB Pokal. The team still had, and has, a core of players who reached the final of Europe’s premier club competition in 2010 and 2012.
The former Barcelona coach has since made a great team even greater, as Bayern have married possessive football to athleticism perfectly and taken their domination over other opponents to a whole new level.
Yet, when it comes to reaching the final of the Champions League for the fourth time in five years, captain Philipp Lahm has no hesitation in playing whatever football needed to be played. As long as Bayern reach the final in Lisbon in May, he does not care.
"The top two teams will play each other,” said the Germany international. ”These games are worthy of being the final. You only have one goal when you are in the semi-final - to reach the final at all costs."
“At all costs” – that’s the key. Bayern’s Lahm knows that playing the best football does not necessarily translate into winning trophies. Look at the final in 2012 at the Allianz Arena in Munich. Chelsea were largely defensive, yet it was Roberto Di Matteo’s side that took the honours, while Jupp Heynckes had to wait for one more year to get his hand on the trophy.
Bayern’s head scout Paul Breitner, himself a former European Cup winner with Bayern and who also picked up two La Liga titles with Madrid, believes that Guardiola’s side are the favourites.
The former West Germany international argues that the Bavarian giants have had a successful campaign so far and will be fuelled by their desire to become the first time in the Champions League era to retain the title.
"Our team are in a very good situation,” said the 62-year-old. “We are on course for another treble and to become the first team to defend the Champions League. I look forward to the encounter with Real Madrid.”