Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Real Madrid 4-2 Bayern Munich (agg 6-3): Five things we learned as Cristiano Ronaldo sends Los Blancos into UCL semis

Milos Markovic in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 18 Apr 2017

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Ronaldo scores hat-trick to send Real Madrid in UCL semis / Image via oneindia.com

It was always going to be Cristiano Ronaldo who added another three goals to his 100-goal European tally and reached the 100-goal mark in the Champions league as he single-handedly sent Real Madrid into the semi-finals.

Los Blancos were made to work hard once again and took advantage of their rivals Bayern Munich, who went man down once more against the La Liga leaders.

Real Madrid used the numbers in their own advantage during extra time when Cristiano Ronaldo completed his hat-trick and Marco Asensio added one more for a compelling 4-2 win (and 6-3 on aggregate) over unfortunate Bayern Munich.

Here are the five things we learned tonight:

It was the tie worthy of the Champions League final

From the moment draw pitted Champions League holders Real Madrid against Bayern Munich for the quarterfinal tie there has been a general opinion that two of Europe’s biggest sides are meeting too early in the competition.

The claim most certainly proved to be true as Spanish and German giants ended up playing an eye-catching tie filled with excitement and drama throughout. What we saw were two red cards, two penalties and the total of nine goals with almost every aspect of this interesting piece of statistics (except goals) evenly spread between the two ties.

Given everything we saw from Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, both sides deserved to go through, but the biggest conclusion we can draw after a sensationally contested tie solved in the extra time at Santiago Bernabeu is that the student has become the master.

Zinedine Zidane outwitted his teacher Carlo Ancelotti with a more direct tactical approach which saw Los Blancos sit back guarding their lead, but also never missing a single chance to break forward and attempt to put the ball in behind Manuel Neuer.

Ultimately, it was Real Madrid who emerged victorious thanks to a fantastic 4-2 result after extra time, thus making a huge – and possibly vital – step on their way towards defending their Champions League crown.

Nacho in the limelight as defences take centre stage

Real Madrid defender Nacho got plenty of stick for his below-par performance in the first leg, but the Spanish international came out a different man in the rematch at Los Blancos’ home ground where he obviously felt more comfortable.

The 27-year-old was composed in his role, strong on the ball with a couple of key aerials won and tackles made to keep Bayern Munich at bay from his own part.

Penalties and own goals as an unpredictable football category aside – one of each credited to Casemiro and Sergio Ramos respectively – Real Madrid defence line did a fairly good job.

And the same can be said for Bayern Munich on the other end.

With Javi Martinez suspended after a red card from the first leg, Carlo Ancelotti was sweating over the fitness of his centre-back pair – Jerome Boateng and Matts Hummels. The latter almost replicated Javi Martinez’s red-card challenge when he tackled Luka Modric in the second half, but Bayern Munich defenders were to good extent up to the task on the big night in Madrid for their own part.

Lewandowski’s return a major boost for Bavarians, but…

Robert Lewandowski’s absence was felt in the first leg in Munich when Bayern slumped to a decisive 2-1 defeat and the prolific striker’s return to the starting line-up was a much-welcomed boost for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Bayern Munich hitman scored his 39th goal of the season for the Bavarian side, once again proving his lethal side – from the penalty spot in particular.

Lewandowski has now converted all of the six penalties he’s taken this season and it is fair to say that thing would have been much more different if the Pole had been on the pitch a week ago at Allianz Arena, when Arturo Vidal sent the penalty kick over and wide.

The Polish striker’s influence in the game went significantly beyond the goal itself as Lewandowski was a constant threat to Real Madrid defence, constantly trying to find his way towards the goal from each side of the field and through the middle as well.

Still it all counted for nothing as once again a reckless moment changed the course of the entire game.

Bayern Munich’s old boys deserve great credit

The ongoing season could be the beginning of an end to an era at Bayern Munich.

With the experienced Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso already announcing that he will retire at the end of the season, questions have been raised over the long-term futures of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

The 35-year-old veteran midfielder Alonso dictated the tempo for his side once again, dominating possession in the centre of the field and oozing self-confidence from the off against his old team. Former Real Madrid man was given a warm applause on his way out, a much-deserved one as well.

As for the two pals Robben and Ribery, the two wide Bayern Munich players have put in an impressive display against Real Madrid. With 67 years between the two of them, Dutch and French wingers were running down the lines like teenagers, snaking their way through the middle and on the flanks against Real Madrid defenders, always being huge threat for the rivals.

Bayern Munich have already invested in future replacements in the likes of Douglas Costa, Renato Sanches and Kingsley Coman, but it will be quite interesting to see what role will the two seasoned veterans take for Bayern next season and will they continue to defy time and odds.

Arturo Vidal should have been rested for the return leg

The Chilean enforcer lacked no emotion heading into the first match in Munich when he scored a crucial goal for his team, but went from hero to zero as he ended up missing the penalty which could have effectively won the entire tie for Bayern Munich.

Former Juventus, however, let his emotions take the better of him and the Chilean failed to produce a composed performance in the return leg as well which is something that should have been anticipated and predicted by a coach as experienced as Carlo Ancelotti.

Vidal’s heart was very much in the game, but it also blurred his vision as Bayern Munich midfielder made too many mistakes with a string of overly aggressive challenges which ultimately got him sent off in the final stages of the match.

The Chilean should have been rested for the replay game as Ancelotti had plenty of options to choose from, given the fact he had no selection issues ahead of the match at Santiago Bernabeu.  

REAL MADRID: Navas 7 – Carvajal 7, Nacho 7, Ramos 5.5, Marcelo 7.5 – Modric 7.5, Casemiro 7, Kroos 7.5 (Kovacic -) – Isco 7 (Lucas 6.5), Benzema 6.5 (Asensio 6.5), Ronaldo 9

Unused subs: Casilla, Danilo, Morata, Rodriguez.

BAYERN MUNICH: Neuer 6.5 – Lahm 6.5, Hummels 6.5, Boateng 7, Alaba 6.5 – Alonso 7 (Muller 6) – Robben 6.5, Vidal 4, Alcantara 6, Ribery 6.5 (Costa 6) – Lewandowski 7 (Kimmich 6)

Unused subs: Bernat, Coman, Rafinha, Ulreich

REFEREE: Viktor Kassai

Other result this evening

Leicester City 1-1 Atletico Madrid

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Milos Markovic


Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia Sportske.net, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently Soccernews.com and Futbolgrad.com. His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.

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