Remember that giant spider that I compared to Sporting Gijon in my last last mailbag? He’s gone. Isco cut off his legs Samuel L. Jackson style. Meanwhile, Kong (Ancelotti) is half-dead thanks to Ronaldo and an entourage of bandits who decided to wake up and realize their season was on the line at half-time in Bavaria. But guess what? Kong is still alive, and he’s very dangerous. Kong is capable of anything up until his last breath — especially in a do-or-die clash with everything on the line and nothing to lose.
Real Madrid go into the second leg against Bayern with a one-goal lead and two crucial away goals to their name. We don’t need to dissect the importance of two away goals (but in case you’re still unsure, check out this post on our enemy’s base which outlines what needs to happen in the second leg to eliminate Real Madrid) — but it’s a massive advantage to have because it makes going out on the away goals rule quite unlikely. But it’s still possible, and that’s something I discussed with Ryan Cowper of SB Nation’s Bavarian Football Works ahead of Tuesday’s clash.
On a side note, if you have any general La Liga questions (or some specific pre-game Qs you’re looking to be answered), Andrew Gaffney and I are recording a Churros y Tácticas podcast tonight. Send us some Qs here.
Ryan: Bayern dominated the first 45 at the Allianz Arena but a tactical adjustment allowed Real Madrid to dominate the second. Are Madridistas worried that Zidane played his cards too early?
Kiyan: Was it really a tactical adjustment, or was it just a matter of Zidane placing 11 infinity stones in his players at half-time? It's hard to pin-point, but, Casemiro turned it up, and after being a black hole offensively in the first half, decided to break Bayern with an incisive through-ball which led to the first goal, then had nine tackles and snuffed out umpteen counter-attacks. Real Madrid defended better and started taking advantage of their counters too.
Did Zidane play his cards too early? I mean, you're essentially asking if Madridista's would rather be level on aggregate, or ahead. Can a card be too early if there's more trump cards remaining? Can't we just keep playing trump cards? Didn't we also think Justin Lin played all his cards in Fast Five before showing more hands in Fast Six? Or Christopher Nolan playing his hand too early in Batman Begins before laying down the greatest superhero movie of all time? Was John Wick really showing all his hands in the first film before throwing down more hands in the second film? Did we really think he was finished his killing spree?
Play those hands early and often, Zidane.
How does it feel to let this one slip? Right before Vidal's penalty miss, Bayern looked like they were bodying Real Madrid. Felt similar to when Ronaldo gave us a 2-0 lead in 2012 before everything turned.
Ryan: If leg one had been at the Santiago Bernabeu, I'd imagine most Bayern Munich fans would be feeling confident. Getting rocked 2-1 at the Allianz Arena, especially given how pathetic Bayern was in the second half, was really hard. This is the same location where after pathetic road results in Ukraine and Portugal at this time last season, Bayern came home and destroyed the competition. The prospect of visiting Real Madrid and being behind the 8-ball is tough. That Arturo Vidal emotionally penalty embodies the change in this tie to this point, and I'm sure Bayern fans will remember it for a long time to come if they lose on Tuesday.
Given the way Thomas Mueller ran circles around Ramos and Fernandez in the first half, how worried are you about Robert Lewandowski?
Kiyan: I think Lewandowski's return almost annuls any chance Real Madrid has at a clean sheet. The guy is scary good, and will probably get on the end of a few crosses which Nacho -- in the past two matches -- has had a lot of trouble dealing with due to a lack of will and athleticism to put a body on the cutting run. Not having Pepe and Varane hurts in this situation, even if Nacho has been really reliable all season. Luckily, Real Madrid can still progress after conceding an inevitable goal (or two).
Give us the scoop on your CB situation. Should Ronaldo be licking his lips at how thin Bayern is there?
Ryan: What centerbacks? Bayern will be without Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez, and odds are that they'll also be missing Mats Hummels. That means Bayern's centerback corps is probably going to be Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba. Bayern faired very well last season with that duo against the likes of Juventus but Pep Guardiola's defensive structure is a far cry from Carlo Ancelotti's. It will require all the mental fortitude of Philipp Lahm, field general and team heart, to maintain Bayern's defensive posture against the likes of Ronaldo and Benzema. In that vein, Bayern could even decide to play Philipp Lahm in the middle of defense and Rafinha out at rightback but that's a far cry from likely.
How does Real Madrid stop Arturo Vidal?
KIyan: On his goal? For one, but a body on him. Anything to put him off -- pull his shirt, make a leap, etc. Nacho probably wouldn't have been able to out-jump or out-muscle Vidal on that corner (which Bayern Munich had an untold amount of in the first half), but he could at least put some effort into unnerving him. Outside of that, as much as a pitbull as Vidal is, Real Madrid defended well. They pressed well, and when pinned, they cut off passing lanes (I wrote about this here) which didn't make Vidal, and Bayern's midfield as a whole, too effective. Again, the goal conceded was a different story, but if we're talking about schematic ways of dealing with Vidal's prowess, I think Zidane did a fine job.
How important is Lewa's return here? Does he give you enough confidence to overturn this deficit, or will you still be curled up sobbing in the fetal position?
Ryan: Robert Lewandowski is the best striker on this planet. He is the heart of Bayern's attack (in a non-Ancelotti world, Thomas Müller would be the heart and soul) and the beginning of their defense. Having Robert Lewandowski back in the side puts any outcome back on the table for Bayern Munich.
Bantz. Is Gareth Bale past it? Ronaldo is super old and broken and was able to wreck Bayern, what gives with Bale?
Kiyan: Bale is a huge part of this team moving forward, so long as he stays healthy. Remember when you thought Ronaldo was past it and I told you not to sleep on him? Lulz. I remember.
Ryan: We remember. We also remember that he's still scored 10 fewer goals than Robert Lewandowski this season.