Bayern Munich 0 Real Madrid 4: Three talking points
Bayern Munich 0 Real Madrid 4: Three talking points as los Blancos book their place in the Lisbon final
Defence is the best form of attack
Real Madrid completely outplayed Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena to book their place in the Champions League final. Winning 4-0, los Blancos deservedly took the lead in the 16th minute through the head of Sergio Ramos after Luka Modric had swung in a delightful corner from Manuel Neuer’s left. From there, Bayern knew they would have plenty left to do to come back, but the fans will not have felt it impossible. What happened only moments later, however, altered that rose-tinted outlook drastically. Completing his brace in the 20th minute from an inviting Angel Di Maria in-swinging free-kick, Bayern’s hopes of an unprecedented back-to-back Champions League win in Lisbon on 24 May all but ended. And, indeed, Ramos’s double told its own story. Although the nine-time champions have often stolen the headlines through their attacking prowess and creative flair of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale up front, it was from the back they won this two-legged affair. In truth, it was quite apt that the Spain defender would gift them should a commanding aggregate lead in the first-half; it showed the hunger they had in every single department. Holding their nerve – and their line – all evening long, their back four looked impenetrable and completely in control. And they provided the perfect springboard for the lightning quick attacks that made them such a threat for large periods.
Madrid out-think Bayern in every department
Such intense and dramatic hype around as important and exclusive a match as this is often let down by the spectacle that ensues. But, no doubt, fans of football are sure to have enjoyed the astounding showdown that ended in such an emphatic victory for the visiting outfit – it will have been difficult not to. And although it wasn’t the ideal close contest that Goliath-clashes are supposed to be, it was sure to appreciated for very different reasons. Watching on as Carlo Ancelotti masterminded a tactical masterclass over Pep Guardiola in his very own back-yard will certainly have made every Bavarian inside the stadium wince with pain, but it will have brought a smile to football aficionados everywhere. With Bayern more than proficient at dictating possession and tempo, it was surprising to see such a capsizing of the hosts’s philosophy and approach, but it was a credit to the La Liga outfit that they did so with such conviction – and the goals to underline it. A snapshot of just how expertly the Bundesliga champions were undone came in the final stages of the match when Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldo rolled home the second of his two goals – a set-piece under the wall and past the hopeless Neuer to seal the aggregate win of 5-0. It epitomised just how poor Munich were on the night, and raised more than a few questions about their mentality ever since they won the league title. An inability to adapt to cancel out Madrid’s approach and a general floundering on the big stage will certainly have their fans worried.
Bayern’s mentality comes under fire
There was no ‘plan B’. Plain and simple. Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger et al., just couldn’t find a way to break through the white wall of Madrid defenders for the entire match, and they never looked like they were going to try changing tack. From the moment Ramos’ first header rustled the back of the net, it was clear that they needed something different; a spark to jig themselves into life. But Guardiola remained unmoved on the side-line, not making any changes until the second half. And by then it was all too late. When Mario Gotze came on, it was as though his final roll of the dice was in desperate hope more so than planned affirmative action. Ultimately, while it would be grossly unfair on Madrid’s achievement to suggest that the home side denied themselves, their bluntness and unawareness certainly did not help. And with the La Liga side possessing such high-quality threats – particularly on both wings – it was as if the hangover of the final few league matches had ultimately taken its toll and they were incapable of re-discovering their mojo.