Real Madrid come away with 1 - 2 away win in Munich (Kimmich; Marcelo, Asensio) in the first leg of semi-finals of the Champions League. Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and tactical review.
Real Madrid, for the second consecutive season, have come away with a 1 - 2 first-leg win in Munich in the Champions League. There is a lot to dissect from this eventful match — Real Madrid’s difficulty in coping with set-pieces and Ribery’s crosses, Luka Modric’s brilliance in finding space while reading passing lanes, Rafinha’s ridiculous giveaway, an embarrassing high-line filled with confusion leading to the game’s opening goal, Marcelo’s wonder strike, and other things that have filled our notepads. We’ll get to it all -- we promise.
Zidane opted to start his regular midfield trio of Modric, Casemiro, and Kroos, while inserting Vazquez and Isco on the flanks. It was a sound plan. Bayern had the majority of the ball to start (and throughout the majority of the match, really), but Real Madrid kept their shape. Their issues came mostly offensively. Bayern didn’t threaten much in the final third within the opening 20 minutes or so, apart from a chance at the start of the match, and Real Madrid were able to force Heyncke’s men to recycle possession without creating much in the game’s opening minutes.
On the flipside, they found it difficult to control the tempo. Zidane’s men didn’t see much of the ball — generally relying on staying compact while slinging on the counter. They didn’t have many opportunities to do so, though. Bayern left a lot of space behind their initial press, and Real Madrid just couldn’t control the match and exploit the open water in front of them. They did, however, grow into the game and start playing in the final-third a bit, with Modric being the main cog in unlocking Bayern’s scheme.
Right around the time Real Madrid took a hold of the match, they conceded. A curiously-high-line did them in. Generally, high lines are fine if they’re masked properly. This one was a mess. I’ll have to go back and watch it again, from a few angles, but at first glance, there was confusion between Casemiro, Ramos, and Kroos, as to who was to track Kimmich’s run. Casemiro hedged forward to close the ball-carrier, and Kimmich ran free. The German right-back scored from the ensuing play — his shot deceiving Keylor Navas (who was anticipating a cross) at the near post.
Bayern immediately had a chance to make it 2-0, if not for a scuffed Ribery chance in front of Keylor. Throughout, they had a ton of clear-cut chances they couldn’t take. Before the half, Marcelo equalized the match with a magnificent strike:
Marco Asensio, who come on at half-time for Isco, linked-up perfectly with Lucas Vazquez on a lethal counter-attack, where Real Madrid took advantage of a Rafinha giveaway.
Real Madrid have done it again!— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) April 25, 2018
Marco Asensio takes advantage of a HUGE mistake from Rafinha to give the visitors the lead in Munich. pic.twitter.com/wDLMCehLsP
The second half ended more uneventful than the rest of the match. Bayern dominated possession, created chances, and Real Madrid couldn’t conjure anything on the counter-attack. Along the way, Keylor made some important saves to close it out
Bullet points from Kiyan’s notepad
- Luka Modric was the standout tonight. Throughout, he was able to cleverly close passing lanes when Bayern thought they were open. He had some brilliant passes, and although Real Madrid didn’t have the majority of the possession, Modric did well to retain it.
- Carvajal was a bit jittery in this one. Had some poor touches and passes; while having to deal with Ribery’s dribbling and crossing constantly. Perhaps we can chalk some of his play to an injury, which he later came off the field for.
- Heyncke’s had his hand forced by making two first half changes due to injuries. When Robben came off for Thiago, Bayern shifted into a more balanced shape. Robben is not the same Robben anymore (and last season Zidane played narrowed and cut out all of his danger), and Thiago shifted deeper to help James and Javi Martinez while Muller went out wide.
- ‘Enjoyed’ James tonight in a deeper role for him. He funnelled a lot of Bayern’s possession, had the most touches of anyone on midfield, had the best passing accuracy on the team, and conjured four key passes.
- Was not a fan of Real Madrid’s vertical defending as the game opened up a bit. Ramos had to intervene a couple times to snuff out Bayern’s attacks, which were entirely preventable, given how deep Zidane had the team line-up throughout.
- Is Bale alive?
- Not Real Madrid’s best performance during this Champions League run, but it was a fantastic result which buys us time to figure some things out for the second leg. See you on tonight’s podcast.