How did Real madrid beat Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final?
Real Madrid are Bayern Munich’s greatest mindblock in European football at the moment and the reigning European champions got on their wicks again, this time in their own backyard to tilt the scales in their favour after the first leg of the second UEFA Champions League semifinal.
It wasn’t a piece of old tackle, however, for Zinedine Zidane’s men and they showed great character to turn the tables when Bayern were threatening to take charge of proceedings.
Bayern were, of course, extremely unlucky as two of their star players – Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng – had to be substituted in the first half after picking up injuries.
It was Bayern Munich that opened the scoring through a delightful Joshua Kimmich finish. Marcelo struck home a beauty from right outside the area in the 43rd minute to bring parity. A brilliant Marco Asensio finish early in the second half proved to be just enough to get them the all-important away victory that comes furnished with 2 away goals.
We take a look at the three things that Real Madrid got right against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena:
#3 Real Madrid thrive in adversity once again
Madrid didn’t start the game with a high press but eventually deployed the tactic as Bayern Munich started to grow more and more comfortable on the ball. However, Bayern weren’t hassled even when they did try to tighten up with their swift passing and movement.
The first goal was coming for a while and when it did arrive, it surprised nobody because that’s the way the tide was flowing. However, in a season of mixed fortunes, Real Madrid have shown true character to still be in the reckoning for the greatest prize in Europe and they showed exactly why this could again be there year.
This was none else than Bayern Munich, on their turf, doing what they like to do despite losing one of their prime predators. But Madrid kept pushing and committed bodies forward in the search for a goal and it soon bore fruit.
Marcelo, as Peter Drury described on the telly, ‘a nominal full-back who loves to attack’, popped up outside the box and scored a peach that settled into the bottom corner of the netting.
The second goal was more typical of them, as they broke on the counter at breakneck speed and caught Bayern on the break to push them into an unfamiliar adverse territory.
#2 Getting Marco Asensio on
Isco suffered a shoulder problem and had to be taken off at halftime. In his place, Zidane sent in Marco Asensio and, once again, like on several other occasions, he stepped up to the task and made Madrid a far better team.
There was more pace and directness about their counter attacks and Bayern were thrown into a tizzy by how Madrid had switched up their play going forward. They slipped up and Rafinha gifted the ball to Asensio in Zizou’s men’s defensive half.
Asensio played a quick one-two and motored into the box before bamboozling Ulreich with a delightful finish. His pace down the flanks proved to be a menace and that resulted in Kimmich having second thoughts about joining the attack at every opportunity.
It’s not that Asensio is a better player than Isco or vice-versa, it’s just that Real Madrid have an abundance of quality in their lineup and each player is a weapon uniquely configured to wreak havoc.
Simply put, Real Madrid will always have a Plan B and the ability to execute it.
#1 Capitalizing on Bayern’s mistakes
Like Toni Kroos mentioned in the build-up towards the game, the Champions League does indeed release special powers in Real Madrid. Their measured approach could have been punished and it would have looked ugly had Bayern taken the chances they were afforded.
However, they failed to do so and could only muster the one goal. It’s a cliche but big matches are often won by the team that makes fewer mistakes. And it’s a menacing habit that Real Madrid have nurtured over the last couple of years, waiting for the opponent to mess up and then put them to bed while the guilt and regret is still fresh.
When Ramos played a diagonal ball that was flicked on by Carvajal, Ronaldo attempted a bicycle kick which put Javi Martinez off. Thus he ended up giving Marcelo just enough room to go for one himself and the Brazilian doesn’t reject a chance to leave his mark on a game.
Had Bayern been a bit more vigilant in and around the area, that goal could have been avoided. The second goal started from a horror vertical ball from Rafinha that was played straight into the hands of Asensio. Once Asensio and Lucas Vazquez broke on the counter, there was no stopping them.
Bayern have a mountain to climb at the Santiago Bernabeu. Well, it’s not impossible as Juventus went on to prove with their valiant efforts a couple of weeks ago.
But this Real Madrid team can never be written off and if you so much as switch off for a second, they will turn the game on its head.