Thursday, July 19, 2018

Bayern Munich 1-2 Real Madrid: Zidane’s men grab a scrappy victory in Germany

Dan Steeden in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 25 Apr 2018

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Bayern Munich welcomed Real Madrid to the Allianz Arena for the first leg of the Champions League semi-final clash between two of Europe’s heavyweights. The Germans saw off Sevilla in the quarter-finals to reach this point, while Los Blancos beat Juventus. With many of the world’s best players on display, this game promised to be a cracker.

A cagey start to a high-profile encounter 

The atmosphere inside the Allianz Arena was electric at kick-off and the Bayern Munich faithful almost had something to cheer about immediately as Thomas Muller went close after a Robert Lewandowski cross, but the German international couldn’t quite manufacture an effort on target. Unfortunately for the Bavarians, key winger Arjen Robben went off injured early on and was replaced by Thiago, which removed some of the pace and dynamism from their front line. Despite that they saw a lot of the ball during the opening exchanges and put Real Madrid on the back foot.

It was interesting to note that Zinedine Zidane had left both Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale on the bench for this clash, which was perhaps a sign of just how much the coach respected Bayern Munich. Indeed even Isco was playing in a deeper role as Los Blancos looked to be attempting to keep this game tight, perhaps believing that a positive result in Madrid might be the way to progress from this tie. 

Fullbacks Kimmich and Marcelo grab a goal each

There was a definite caution and tentativeness to Madrid’s play, especially from the midfielders who seemed to have been instructed not to take any risks, but they did soon grow into the game. The threat of Cristiano Ronaldo was ever-present and the Portuguese legend went within inches of finding a square ball to Modric, who had made a well-timed run into the box, but it was cut out at the last second. As Real pushed forward they did look flimsy at the back as Bayern broke on the counter, and the Bavarians took full advantage.

It was James Rodriguez who manufactured the counter attack, slipping Joshua Kimmich in down the right flank. The fullback shaped up to cross but instead fired the ball towards goal, catching Keylor Navas out at the near post and handing Bayern Munich a crucial lead. It was a costly gamble by Navas to predict the cross, and a decision that will raise even more questions about his future in Madrid.

While Bayern dominated the game following the goal, largely because of how sloppy Real had been, it was Los Blancos who found the back of the net on the stroke of half time. A simple lofted ball across the box found Marcelo at the edge of the box and the fullback struck a sweet shot that nestled in the far corner, beating Sven Ulreich with its sheer precision. Bayern almost hit back immediately through Robert Lewandowski, but the Polish international somehow couldn’t guide his header past Navas. In the end the two sides went in level at 1-1 – a score line that flattered the visitors.

Asensio comes off the bench to hand Real the lead 

Zidane made a change at half time, introducing Marco Asensio for Isco in an attempt to take control of the game. The substitution did little to limit Bayern Munich’s dominance however and the Bavarians continued where they had left off in the first half, looking threatening whenever they went forward. Muller went close again after some good work down the left flank from Franck Ribery, but a vital touch from Raphael Varane took the ball away from the German veteran.

Typically however, just as they had in the first half, Real Madrid managed to grab another goal against the run of play. A mistake from Rafinha on the half way line allowed Lucas Vazquez to poach possession before slipping in Asensio, who lifted a cool finish over the onrushing Ulreich. It was a well-worked move in the final third but Los Blancos had been handed the goal on a plate by the home side, who subsequently began to push furiously for an equaliser. Keylor Navas made a number of important saves around the hour mark to preserve his side’s lead.

Real Madrid close out the narrow win

Having conceded two away goals it was little surprise that Bayern Munich threw men forward in the final 20 minutes in search of an equaliser, and perhaps more goals to tip the balance back in their favour. The Bavarians looked incredibly dangerous on the front foot and it was a miracle that Muller didn’t put the ball into an empty net following some shambolic defending at a corner, but Real somehow survived to continue presenting a threat on the break. The introduction of Karim Benzema added to Los Blancos’ firepower and they too looked capable of scoring again.

The game became stretched and open in the final 10 minutes as both teams sensed that the next goal would go a long way towards deciding the tie. Bayern looked the more likely to get it and Ribery in particular was electric down the left flank, terrorising the makeshift right back Lucas Vazquez. It became a backs-to-the-wall defensive effort in the end from Real Madrid, helped somewhat by a shock miss from Lewandowski after the striker went in one-on-one with Navas. In the end it was a frustrating evening for Bayern, who couldn’t find another opening before the final whistle.

Final Thoughts

Having gone a goal up at home and having dominated for large spells of this game, Bayern Munich will be incredibly disappointing with the result as they now face an incredibly difficult task when they travel to Madrid next week. Lewandowski wasted a few good chances that could have changed the complexion of this game, and they will have to elevate their performance in order to progress.

For Real Madrid this was a dream away result, with two goals putting them in a commanding position heading back to Madrid next week. They managed that feat without Ronaldo at his best and without really turning up as they have been known to do in this competition, so if they can play like their usual selves in the second leg then we should see them in the final.

Match Report 

Bayern Munich: Ulreich, Kimmich, Boateng (Sule, 34’), Hummels, Rafinha, Martinez (Tolisso, 75’), Robben (Thiago, 8’), Muller, Rodriguez, Ribery, Lewandowski 

Real Madrid: Navas, Carvajal (Benzema, 67’), Varane, Ramos, Marcelo, Modric, Casemiro (Kovacic, 83’), Kroos, Vazquez, Ronaldo, Isco (Asensio, 45’)

Goals: Kimmich (1-0, 28’), Marcelo (1-1, 44’), Asensio (1-2, 57’) 

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers 

Yellow Cards: Ribery (52’), Casemiro (78’), Thiago (89’)

Red Cards: None 

Player Ratings

Bayern Munich: Ulreich 6.5, Kimmich 8, Boateng n/a (Sule 7), Hummels 6.5, Rafinha 6, Martinez 6 (Tolisso n/a), Robben n/a (Thiago ), Muller 6, Rodriguez 6.5, Ribery 7.5, Lewandowski 6 

Real Madrid: Navas 6, Carvajal 6 (Benzema n/a), Varane 7.5, Ramos 7.5, Marcelo 7, Modric 6.5, Casemiro 6 (Kovacic n/a), Kroos 6.5, Vazquez 6.5, Ronaldo 6, Isco n/a (Asensio n/a)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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