In a drama-filled but rather drab match at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Spain on Wednesday, Real Madrid pulled out a 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal clash. Bayern Munich will enjoy the comforts of Allianz Arena on April 29 for the return clash.
Real Madrid jumped out to an early lead in this match with a Karim Benzema goal on the 19th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo placed a perfect pass down the left to Fabio Coentrao, who then hit a short, low cross that needled through traffic to Benzema. Benzema delivered the ball into the back of the net for the match's first and only score.
The goal came off of a quick counterattack, and Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti was happy with his side's effort on the counter in his post-match interview:
Carlo Ancelotti: "Our counter attacks were good." #HalaMadrid— WeAreMadrid10 (@WeAreMadrid10) April 23, 2014
Ancelotti and company will be pleased with the outcome. They have the one-goal advantage and will only have to score one on April 29 to have the lead in away goals. Essentially, Bayern Munich will have to win by at least two at Allianz Arena.
But will Real Madrid notch a goal in Germany? To pull that off, it would behoove Real to be a bit more aggressive.
This match was not as dull as yesterday's Chelsea's goalless draw with Atletico Madrid, but it had a similar feel. Bayern Munich dominated possession with 72 percent according to ESPN, but they couldn't get clean looks at goal.
Iker Casillas had a solid day in goal and made four saves, and in all, Real Madrid had far better looks. Bayern Munich were lucky to only lose by a goal. Ronaldo had three decent looks at goal, and he blew a sitter that is usually money for him. The Champions League official Twitter caught the moment:
Tactics Tonight pic.twitter.com/E3SoR3Qaoo— Troll Football (@Troll__Football) April 23, 2014
This was Ronaldo's first action since tweaking his hamstring three weeks ago. He played an active and solid match, but Fox Soccer Trax didn't feel he was at full strength:
WeAreMadrid10 captured the moment:
Pepe had a good game. Ronaldo had one good pass. Not 100%. 1-0— FOX Soccer Trax (@FOXSoccerTrax) April 23, 2014
In the 75th minute, Gareth Bale came on for Ronaldo, which is a complete embarrassment of riches, but also highlights Real's strategy. Had Bale and Ronaldo been on the pitch together, Ancelotti wouldn't have been able to commit as much to defense.
Still, the strategy worked, and Real Madrid exposed a suspect defense for Bayern Munich with the quality looks they got off of their counterattacks.
The German side must be more aggressive with their possession. That has to start with Ballon d'Or nominee Franck Ribery. He offered only lackluster effort on Wednesday, and Bayern Munich need some inspired play to spark their attack.
Bayern Munich have the Bundesliga title wrapped up and will remain firmly fixed on the Champions League. Perhaps their dominance in domestic play has taken off a bit of their edge. They will need a far more inspired effort on April 29 if they are to survive.