A feisty affair at Santiago Bernabeu resulted in Real Madrid overcoming Bayern Munich to reach the finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Final Score: Real Madrid 2-2 Bayern Munich
Scorers: Real Madrid – Benzema 11′, 46′; Bayern Munich – Kimmich 3′, Rodriguez 63′
Two teams capable of achieving anything on the night? Check. Two master tacticians at the helm of it all? Check. An iconic stadium? Check. The grandest stage in Europe? Check.
After racking up a clinical win at the Allianz Arena last week despite a below-par performance, Real Madrid hosted the record Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in the Spanish capital of Madrid.
Los Blancos would have hoped to extend their winning run against the Bavarians to seven and had chances aplenty to do the same – but had to hold their nerves to settle for a draw in the end at their fortress.
A similar story transpired in the second leg of the competition as compared to last week with Bayern scoring first, courtesy of right-back Joshua Kimmich. Real equalized, and then went ahead via a howler of a mistake from Bayern. Rafinha was the culprit last time, Sven Ulreich the guilty party tonight.
James Rodriguez haunted his principal club on his return as he equalized for Die Roten, but he couldn’t help his current side cross the line.
Let us now get straight into all the noteworthy facets of tonight’s encounter.
#1 Navas and Ulreich put in contrasting displays
For what it’s worth, Keylor Navas has had his fair share of criticism over the past few months, nay years, if I may add. The Costa Rican has been considered by many as the weakest link in the Galacticos’ defence.
The Real Madrid No. 1 cannot be let off as being a mere scapegoat either with his poor reflexes and faulty distribution in the recent past suggesting otherwise. However, he silenced all the sceptics as he commanded his posts astutely and fended off Bayern attackers on several occasions when they were in on goal.
8 – Keylor Navas made eight saves against Bayern Munich, his highest tally in a Champions League knock-out game. Hero.
From keeping out Alaba’s deflected shot to parrying away Tolisso’s attempt from roughly six yards out, Navas was resolute while doing his duty between the sticks.
On the other end of the pitch though, Sven Ulreich pulled off probably the biggest gaffe of the season in European competition to gift Karim Benzema his second goal on the night.
Tolisso was caught in sixes and sevens in his own defensive third of the pitch as Madrid attackers closed in on him. Baffled, the Frenchman favoured putting in a back pass to Ulreich between the sticks.
The pass, however, was undercooked and it tempted Benzema to chase it down, but was strong enough to reach the German shot-stopper. Ulreich seemed to have forgotten that it was a back pass and he could not use his hands to control it as he appeared to be getting ready to pick up the ball.
As soon as he made enough computations in the back of his head to arrive at the impending repercussion of an indirect free kick in case he employed his hands, Ulreich simply shied away at the last moment and the trailing Benzema slotted the ball into an empty net to tip the odds in Madrid’s favour.