Real Madrid's Marcelo: The Master of Chaos Who Rules the Champions League

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterApril 26, 2018

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 25: Marcelo of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between Bayern Muenchen and Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena on April 25, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)
Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Football, be it at the top level or the very bottom, is governed and shaped by elements of chaos.

The moments that decide games, that pull you to your feet, that make you gasp for air or gesticulate wildly—they are all miniature examples of this; they imbue games with drama, representing crashing waves hurtling along an otherwise pristine sea.

Wednesday evening at the Allianz Arena, where Bayern Munich lost 2-1 to Real Madrid, was a pure exhibition of these principles of chaos.

It was rather odd to watch two teams of such calibre, clashing on a stage as glamorous as the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, produce such an exhilarating display of errors, miskicks and poor finishing.

This onslaught of hilarity was occasionally punctuated by moments of quality, jolting a disbelieving audience back into recognition that these were top sides before them. But for the most part, it felt like football had simply glitched.

What wasn't odd was that in such a scenario, wherein reality seemed slightly off balance, is that a player like Marcelo took on a starring role. He offered the good, the bad, the great and the awful. He was Marcelo uncut.

The tone for the game was set in the first 20 seconds, when Dani Carvajal managed to back himself up against his own byline and send a clearance cannoning into James Rodriguez. It fell to Robert Lewandowski who crossed just behind Thomas Muller, allowing Marcelo to smash clear.

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 25: Marcelo of Real Madrid sticks his tongue out during warm up before the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between Bayern Muenchen and Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena on April 25, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (Photo b
MB Media/Getty Images

That touch from the Brazil international was the first involvement for the evening's most contrasting star—the one who played the role of Master of Chaos. Over the course of 90 minutes, Marcelo was terrible and brilliant in equal measure, individually typifying a bizarre game. He produced several moments of heart-stopping quality yet allied them with passages of play for which you wouldn't forgive an amateur.

Given Marcelo's predilection for joining the attack regardless of whether there's cover in place for his zone, Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes will have been quietly confident Arjen Robben was the perfect player to take advantage of the gaping holes the left-back leaves.

In what would be a theme for the Bavarians on Wednesday, things didn't pan out as planned. Robben exited with an injury in the eighth minute, but both Muller (moved to the right) and Joshua Kimmich (from right-back) did exploit those areas willingly in his absence.

Again and again Muller sneaked into space behind Marcelo, received the ball and turned. Bayern's goal came from a simple, straight burst from Kimmich into that area, followed by a strike Keylor Navas should have saved. Replays showed Marcelo jogging back casually as Casemiro and Raphael Varane pulled out the fire extinguishers; by the time Kimmich had shot, Marcelo still hadn't broken into a run.

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 25: Marcelo of Real Madrid competes with Thomas Muller of Bayern Muenchen during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between Bayern Muenchen and Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena on April 25, 2018 in Munich, Germany
MB Media/Getty Images

If that's what we have come to know as Bad Marcelo, though, it only took him 15 minutes to remind us what Good Marcelo looks like. An exquisite volley from 18 yards pulled Real Madrid level in the tie and gifted them a vital away goal just as it looked like Los Blancos were on the verge of caving in.

It was his third goal of the knockout stages this season, having also netted against both Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus. It was also his best yet, with the technique on the strike simply flawless, topping his previous two by some distance.

As the flow of the play drifted toward the opposite flank in the second half, with Franck Ribery enjoying his battle with Carvajal and Lucas Vazquez, Marcelo was given some defensive reprieve. Helping that was the fact Muller took a knock and looked exhausted, no longer able to use space so effectively or stretch Real Madrid on the flank.

That increased time on the ball played a part in enabling Marcelo's second act: a flawless, jaw-dropping trapping of a lofted pass from Varane. Few footballers would attempt it; even fewer could pull it off. Understandably, social media lost its mind over the touch.

Players like Marcelo are why we watch football. He embodies the game's high points and low points, masterfully blending them into 90-minute, consumable cocktails on the world's biggest stage. He makes you want to tear your hair out, but he also makes you stand up and applaud. He's fun.

Long may the Brazilian exert his warping influence on football at the elite level. We spectators will remain all the better for it.

Facebook.com/SamTigheBR

All statistics via WhoScored.com

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