Bayern Munich 2 Real Madrid 1: Lessons from a dramatic first leg

What did we learn from Bayern Munich's 2-1 triumph against Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final?

By Charlie Reynolds
Champions League, 17 April 2012, Allianz Arena
team1
Bayern Munich
2 - 1
team2
Real Madrid

Gómez grabs goal – eventually

It looked as if Bayern Munich were going to rue missing several great chances to take a lead into the second leg of the tie as Mario Gómez twice put relatively simple chances over the bar. However, the German forward’s persistence eventually paid off as he once again displayed his mastery of the six-yard box to bundle home Philipp Lahm’s cross in the 90th minute. While Gómez’s 40th goal of the season may not have been his most aesthetically pleasing, it was undoubtedly his most important.

Away goal could prove crucial

Despite Bayern emerging victorious from the first leg in Munich, it was not an entirely disastrous night for José Mourinho’s Madrid as they bagged a vital away goal to take back to the Bernabéu. Until Tuesday night, Mesut Özil had not scored a single away goal this season, but he ended that miserable run in the 53rd minute with the simplest of close-range finishes after an excellent counter-attacking move from Madrid. While Özil may not remember his 100th appearance for the club all that fondly, his goal could prove crucial in a week’s time.

Best and worst of Ribery on show

Before the game a lot of talk centred on former Chelsea winger Arjen Robben and whether he would come back to haunt his former club, but in the end the star of the show for Bayern was their other wide man, Franck Ribéry. Sadly, the French international was not always centre of attention for the right reasons, diving theatrically to try and win a penalty early in the first half as well as various other times during the game. Cynical play-acting aside, Ribery had an excellent game, scoring Bayern’s first goal and proving a constant threat as Madrid often looked vulnerable in wide areas.

Madrid fail to deal with set pieces

Unusually for a Mourinho team, Real Madrid’s defence looked uncertain and vulnerable when defending set pieces. Sergio Ramos’ inability to clear the ball from a Bayern corner allowed Ribéry to open the scoring in the 17th minute and Madrid were very fortunate not to concede again from a free-kick in the second half when the normally prolific Gómez missed a fantastic chance.

Both teams will have to play their cards right in second leg

Although the game did not quite match the explosive nature of recent clashes between Madrid and Barcelona, players from both sides found themselves in Howard Webb’s book with a total of nine yellow cards handed out. Overall, the Premier League’s top referee handled disciplinary matters fairly well, although Marcelo may feel fortunate not to have seen red for a needless hack on Thomas Müller late on. But both teams will have to be on their best behaviour next week in Madrid with several players one card away from automatic suspension.

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