3 Things We Noticed: Real Madrid 4-2 FC Bayern Munich (AET)

Steffen Separator April 19, 2017

FC Bayern lose in the Champions League quarter final 4-2 against Real Madrid.

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Ancelotti brought with him both remaining centre-backs in Hummels and Boateng, who went into the game carrying injuries.

Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich – starting formations

Müller had to settle for a place on the bench. The midfield recently favoured by Ancelotti of Vidal, Alonso and Thiago started behind Lewandowski.

Zidane was forced to replace Bale. In came the more central Isco for the Welshman. Benzema and Ronaldo lined up from the start as a genuine strike partnership.

The first chance of the game went to the guests, who had started well. Thiago and Robben, though, failed to make the most of a double opening, first striking the many-legged Madrid defence and then the side-netting.

A feisty game developed with both teams playing quite adventurously. The next piece of action came from Real. Alonso, under no pressure, lost the ball, allowing Madrid to counter. The ball went via Ronaldo to Carvajal, who forced Neuer into a save with a well-placed low shot from 20 yards. One minute later Ramos popped up in the box amongst a few Bayern players who were taken unawares. His shot was scrambled off the line by Boateng.

Now Real were really upping the pressure, even forcing Bayern into misplacing passes in their own box. Four shooting chances later, for Kroos (over; Neuer) and Ronaldo (Neuer; over), and Bayern had been let off the hook.

The Reds improved after the break. Indeed, after just a few minutes Robben had a huge chance cleared off the line by Marcelo. Two minutes later and Robben burst into the penalty area, gratefully taking on the somewhat clumsy Casemiro. Penalty. Lewandowski stepped up and converted confidently. 1-0 Bayern.

Bayern were now a different team. More control, more momentum going towards goal, and more control in defending counters. Zidane reacted first, bringing attacking all-rounder Asensio on for Benzema. Soon after Ancelotti took off Ribéry and sent Douglas Costa on.

Then Alonso made way for Müller (75’) to end his final game at the Bernabeu. 20 seconds later, Cristiano Ronaldo headed home a dream of a cross to make it 1-1. Just 120 more seconds had passed when Sergio Ramos converted at the other end, scoring an own goal after a chested lay-off from Müller, to make it 2-1 to Bayern. After several post-match replays, the goal seemed to be offside by a matter of inches.

After that, the game tilted back and forth. Vazquez next came close with a scissor kick (80’). Shortly after, referee Kassai sent off Arturo Vidal for a second yellow. The Chilean had indeed been walking on a tight-rope for some time, but the second yellow was obviously a poor decision from the referee. Vidal had clearly slid in tidily to sweep the ball away.

Ancelotti reacted instantly and put Kimmich on for Lewandowski. And that’s how things stood going into extra time. Bayern were now in a compact 4-4-1. At this point, Ronaldo began to try to win the game by himself from the number 10 position, but saw his shot from distance saved by Neuer in the 96th minute. Neuer again saved Bayern in the 98th minute, denying Asensio.

Bayern were able to relieve the pressure a few times, but Real got their goal. Kroos found Ronaldo, unmarked in the middle, who fired home from 12 yards. When Kroos crossed the ball, Ronaldo was a yard offside. 2-2 (105’).

Bayern’s resolve was broken. Two players playing with injuries. No energy left. Bayern weren’t able to mount a single genuine attack from then on. Real took control. Ronaldo scored again, after superb work from the excellent Marcelo, the Portuguese appearing to be offside when he received the ball (109’). Asensio sealed the deal shortly after (112’). Real Madrid are into the semi-finals.

3 things we noticed

1. First a midfield battle – then chaos

Zinedine Zidane decided to bring in Isco for the injured Gareth Bale, and his decision was proven spot-on. The Spaniard interpreted his role as a nominal wide player completely differently to the Welshman, and roamed as much as he could into midfield. Real were thus able to constantly create overloads in central midfield, with Isco helping out Casemiro, Kroos and Modrid against Thiago, Alonso and Vidal. Carvajal and Marcelo supported in attack with rapid forays forward.

Bayern’s build-up from deep was poor in the first-half. Alonso misplaced several passes. Boateng had to resort to wild clearances to escape pressure. At the same time, the pressing was toothless – as well because Robben and Ribéry didn’t cooperate particularly well and Vidal (6 fouls) was late with his tackles several times. Generally Bayern didn’t win the ball high up the pitch often enough, while Casemiro put in a lot of tackles and intercepted a lot of through-balls, with Kroos and Modric constantly forcing Bayern’s midfield three into bad areas. That was enough to stifle Thiago and Alonso’s structured build-up. Then the remaining option was to by-pass midfield and go direct. Here, however, Lewandowski didn’t get enough support.

After the break, a small modification changed the game. Ribéry was now playing clearly more centrally on his side, occupying the space behind Kroos and Modric. At the same time, Alaba and Lahm now pushed somewhat higher up, and so offered targets to hit in build-up play. That did the trick in Bayern’s efforts to win back control after the break. It also allowed Ribéry to support Robben better from the left, as he did for the penalty. In the 70th minute at 0-1, Isco and Ribéry both went off. Real decided to sit deeper and counter from then on.

The midfield battle thus came to an end after 70 minutes. Then it was time for chaos. After the changes and then Vidal’s red card, both teams’ playing structures, completely superficial anyway, disappeared entirely, giving way to an end-to-end game. Before that, Bayern had started to improve their occupation of the opposing penalty area with Müller as a second striker, giving the Real defence real problems.

It’s pointless to discuss what would have happened if not for the debatable red card. All we know is, after 210 minutes, with Bayern playing with ten men for almost 80 of those, the team with the greater individual quality is in the semi-final.

2. The two towers

Much was said about the two Bayern centre-backs before the game. Alternatives were discussed. Some even begged for no risks to be taken with a view to the rest of the season. It was already obvious though. If there was a slight chance that Boateng and Hummels could start, they would start. It was particularly clear to see that Boateng was playing with an injury. They both fought through it. They threw themselves at counters, shots, crosses, into tackles. Like two towers.

In particular Hummels (4 successful tackles, 2 interceptions, 3 clearances, 4 blocked shots) came to the rescue on at least five occasions in emergencies in the penalty area and, after a wobbly start, impressed in the build-up phase. It was a memorable performance that couldn’t escape comparisons with Jens Jeremies in the Champions League campaign in 2001. Even if there was a negative outcome this time around.

In the end, Real needed two offside goals and a stellar performance from Cristiano Ronaldo (9 shots) to beat the centre-backs and Neuer, who was also fantastic. Hummels and Boateng were the building blocks for a battling, remarkable Bayern performance. We just have to hope that the long-term effects of their appearances are negligible.

3. Ancelotti’s questionable changes

Certainly we still have to wait and see what the players themselves think about the changes. But shortly after full-time, the question has to be asked as to whether Ancelotti’s changes genuinely helped his team.

In the 70th minute, Bayern withdrew Ribéry, who had been the most important factor in their improved second half. Costa, meanwhile, was poor. Coman, who had played well at the weekend, remained on the bench for 120 minutes.

In the 75th minute, off went Xabi Alonso. In terms of his performance, this was reasonable for sure. The idea with Müller was good too. But it was a risk to leave Vidal, in danger of a second yellow card, on the pitch. It had dire consequences. Even if the referee’s decision to give a second yellow was wrong.

Lewandowski being substituted off in the 88th minute also threw up questions. Kimmich replaced him, and at times looked overwhelmed as an additional midfielder. A reaction to the red card, perhaps also a reaction to Lewandowski’s injury. Ancelotti indicated after the final whistle that it was more of a tactical change.

All in all, the reaction to going down to ten men was definitely better than in the first leg. And yet at the end the feeling remains that the help from the touchline in both games against Real wasn’t quite up to standards.

In Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm, two of the greatest footballers of all time departed the Champions League stage. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Bongarts/Getty Images)

3.1 Philipp Lahm will never play in the Champions League again

I have no adequate words here.


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