Euphoria coupled with relief—Madrid have made it to their third consecutive Champions League Final. A feat likely not to be replicated for 50+ years. Once again, it was not pretty from the boys in white, but once again they found a way to win the tie. Zidane made more surprising and bold decisions as he is likely to do for a big game. Kovacic got the nod over Casemiro and Asensio was brought into the eleven. Lucas Vazquez was given a start at right back and Modric played on the right side of midfield to help provide cover.
Keylor Navas—10: The Costa Rican was the man of the match. He made crucial stop after crucial stop and kept Madrid in the tie. Without the Costa Rican’s phenomenal performance, Madrid would not be on their way to Kiev.
Lucas Vazquez—4.5: Zidane opted for Lucas at the right back position and Bayern did all they could to exploit the Spaniards unfamiliarty with the position. He was caught out on a number of occasions and failed to pass on his marks, meaning he would be dragged out by RIbery and left a gaping hole for Alaba or Lewandowski to maneuver into and find a way at Madrid’s goal. He took the defense out of their shape for the entirety of the first half and Nacho even began warming up within 20 minutes of the start of the match. His performance improved after the half, but hopefully Lucas won’t have to deputize in the right back role again.
Raphael Varane—9.5: What a performance and how many times has that been said about Varane this season, especially in big games. The Frenchman has certainty come of age this season and is a rock at the back for Madrid. Two interceptions, THIRTEEN clearances, and three blocked shots. The tandem of Varane, Ramos, and Keylor were vital to Madrid’s success.
Sergio Ramos—10: Another big game and another world class performance from El Capitan. Like Varane, Ramos had three tackles, ELEVEN clearances, two interceptions, and one blocked shot. In the first half, there were multiple occasions where Ramos threw his body on the line to block the passing lane and make a last minute intervention to stop Bayern from coasting through to goal.
Marcelo—7.5: Marcelo and the team did a better job of limiting the space in behind the Brazilian when he forays forward. Was solid defensively and kept the right flank of Bayern’s attack relatively quiet. Slinged a beautiful assist for Karim Benzema to equalize in the first half.
Luka Modric—7: Is offensive contribution was limited on the night as he was placed in a right midfield role to help cover for Lucas Vazquez. The creation put in a good shift and did his best to help Lucas cope with Ribery and Alaba. He had the most interceptions of any midfielder (3). ‘
Mateo Kovacic—6.5: A decent game for Mateo, but not the career defining game he and many had hoped for as Madrid’s structure and pressing failed exploited Mateo more than helped. Rather than having Karim Benzema drop in to press Thiago or the deep lying midfielder, Kovacic came out to press and Bayern played in behind the midfield line on countless occasions. Though, as per usual, his passing was superb and he helped orchestrate the equalizing goal.
Toni Kroos—6: Uncharacteristically quiet game from Toni Kroos. He battled all night with James and Tolisso and our central midfield of two struggled against their three.
Marco Asensio—5.5: Defensively, it was one of Marco’s worst performances. He failed to track Kimmich on the opening goal and was simply not switched on. Those types of mistakes can be fatal in the Champions League. He had the lowest pass count of the midfield four (33) and ran out of gas by the end of the game. There were spurts of magic and some of his scintillating runs, but they were far and few between.
Karim Benzema—10: The Frnechman had been waiting for a night like this—along with Keylor, he was the hero of the match. Two goals and a tremendous amount of defensive work coupled with strong hold-up play meant Karim was the man. Hopefully Big Benz can take this confidence boosting performance into the tail end of the season.
7 - Karim Benzema made seven recoveries against Bayern, more than any other Real Madrid player in the game and more than in any other game at Bernabeu in his career. Star. pic.twitter.com/TjhCp76GW2— OptaJose (@OptaJose) May 1, 2018
Cristiano Ronaldo—8: Didn’t get on the score sheet, despite having a number of chances to do so and his involvement, specifically in the first half, was limited as he had the least amount of touches of any player. But as the game wore on, his leadership qualities shone. Ronaldo tracked back, made some crucial tackles, and helped start counter attacks.
Gareth Bale—8.5: The Welshman came on and did his job to perfection. Placed in a deeper left midfield role as Madrid switched to a 4-5-1 and Bale was the go-to man on all counter attacks, goal kicks, and punts. His aerial prowess proved to be a vital tool in taking advtanage of Kimmich. With Bale’s presence, Kimmich was kept at bay with his attacking runs. In the dying minutes, it was Bale who was pressing the Bayern backline and forcing them into rushed decisions.
Casemiro—6: Was brought on to plug some of the gaps in midfield. Had two clearances and one tackle.
Nacho—7: Replaced Asensio in the dying minutes as the youngster was completely gassed. Had one crucial heading clearance on a Bayern corner.
Zinedine Zidane—6.5: As always, Zidane was bold with his decisions. He trusted Kovacic to get the job done in midfield and Lucas in defense. It wasn’t so much the personnel, but the structure and disjointed press that left Madrid vulnerable. On the night, a draw was all that was needed and once again Zinedine Zidane has led his team to another Champions League final.
Real Madrid were drawn into the toughest possible CL group against Spurs and Dortmund.— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) May 1, 2018
They got the toughest possible draw in the round of 16 with PSG, then again in the semis vs Bayern. And they merely had to face Juve in the quarters.
They're going to the final.
MOTM: Keylor Navas & Karim Benzema