Real Madrid and UEFA Champions League have become synonymous over the past 4-5 seasons.
The team who made the competition popular since its inception days, have reached the final 3 times over the last 5 seasons. On all 3 occasions previous to the current, Madrid have gone on to lift the trophy. The Spanish giants made it a 4th final and 3rd one in a row on Tuesday night when they saw off a resilient Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu.
While Bayern took the lead early through Joshua Kimmich in the 3rd minute, the defending champions struck back with two goals from Karim Benzema. Although Real loanee James Rodriguez made it level, it was still enough for Madrid to progress 4-3 on aggregate. They had earlier won 2-1 at the Allianz Arena. Here are 3 talking points from the second leg tie:
Bayern Munich’s silly errors cost them a place in the final:
Whoever followed both the ties keenly, must have noticed how Bayern Munich dig their own graves in both the legs with silly school boy errors against heavyweight opponents. In the first leg, Rafinha’s erroneous backward pass gave Bayern Munich to score the crucial second away goal and win the tie. In the second leg, a Thiago back-pass was terribly misjudged and missed by the goalkeeper Sven Ulreich that allowed Benzema to score in an empty net.
Not only in defence, the German champions’ lack of killer instinct in front of the goal also proved costly. Robert Lewandowski missed a clear cut goal in the dying moments of the first leg. Frank Ribery and Thomas Mueller were both very poor in front of goal in both the legs, especially the second. Bayern fans did go home thinking they had plenty of opportunities to win this one.
Keylor Navas is very very underrated:
Real Madrid’s new Galacticos were super hit. They spent tonnes of money in buying and developing the squad into a conglomeration of superstars. But since the departure of club legend Iker Casillas after 2015, the goalkeeping position has not been the most reliable for the fans and the management alike. Despite signing Costa Rica’s world cup hero Keylor Navas, there have been rumours every year of bringing David De Gea from Manchester United to complete the Galacticos again.
Well, at least for this double legged tie, the Costa Rican captain proved to be more than just reliable for the 12-times champions. He was one more reason why Real Madrid are in their 3rd straight final. He thwarted the Bayern attacking line on many a occasions and made some very crucial saves. If he continues in this manner the De Gea rumours can be truly put to death.
Real’s weakness in defence in the 4-4-2 formation:
Real Madrid have been mightily successful under Zinedine Zidane in their usual shape of 4-3-3. But due to injuries to Daniel Carvajal and Isco and Gareth Bale still not attaining full match fitness, Zidane changed to a 4-4-2 in the second leg with Luka Modric at an unlikely right back position.
This played the tie right into the hands of the Bundesliga champions. They dominated possession and also in chances created. Bayern enjoyed almost 60% possession while having as many as 22 shots compared to Real’s 9. The Real defence looked pretty shaken despite the presence of the likes of Sergio Ramos and Rafael Varane.
Whoever, amongst Liverpool FC and AS Roma, joins Madrid in the final, must be able to exploit the weaknesses that the defending champions showcased in their semi final matches. Zidane needs to fix this problem the soonest, and possibly go back to their much favoured 4-3-3 on 26th May at Kiev.
Photo by El Coleccionista de Instantes