Champions League: Real Madrid punish sloppy Bayern Munich
Defending champions are on course for the final following a lacklustre clash in Germany
After the drama came the dross with Real Madrid’s 2-1 victory at Bayern Munich in stark contrast to the excitement of Liverpool’s 5-2 win against Roma 24 hours earlier.
At times it was hard to believe that Bayern and Real were playing in the semi-final of the Champions League, such was the paucity of the encounter in a match shorn of skill and speed. The German champions were particularly guilty and their inability to seize the chances they created in a first-half in which they dominated their Spanish visitors cost them dear.
Their one goal came courtesy of another gaffe from the increasingly hapless Keylor Navas. The Real Madrid keeper allowed himself to be beaten at the near post by Joshua Kimmich’s speculative shot on 28 minutes.
Up until that moment, Real had barely posed any threat. Cristiano Ronaldo cut an anonymous figure up front in a Real side that looked as if they had come to Munich to play for the draw. But Marcelo scored with a half-volley against the run of play a minute before the break. When the defending champions emerged after the break with Marco Asensio on for Isco, it gave them a better shape and allowed them to control the second half of the game.
Asensio put the visitors ahead on 57 minutes, capitalising on an error by Rafinha, who gave the ball away near the halfway line. It summed up the performance of Bayern, a side who looked their age against a Real team who are now strong favourites to reach their fourth final in five years.
In truth the Spaniards offered little in the way of creativity. They enjoyed less than 40 per cent of possession and Ronaldo didn’t manage a shot on target for the first time in the Champions League since May 2017.
But Bayern squandered the chances that did come their way. Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Frank Ribery were all guilty in front of goal. The fans’ frustration boiled over at the end of the match when several supporters ran onto the pitch and confronted the players.
“We had to suffer, but in the end we did it, we got an important result,” said Real coach Zinedine Zidane, whose side became the first club to reach 150 wins in the Champions League. “You can’t play a Champions League match without suffering.”
Asked about Navas gifting another goal to the opposition (as he did against Juventus in the previous round) Zidane replied: “[He] gives everything... the error belongs to everyone. At the beginning of the play we are out of position, then [the goal] is a consequence of errors. He has made two or three saves and has been very good.”
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes was left to rue what might have been after his side failed to capitalise on their first-half dominance. But he tried to put a positive spin on the result nonetheless. “You don’t often see a game like this in the Champions League, where you have so many chances and you don’t take them,” he said. “Tonight’s match showed that Real Madrid are vulnerable, that they can be harmed. We showed that we can hurt them, so we take hope from this. You should never surrender, never give up. You should play the second leg and try to win, and that is what we will do."