In Depth

Ronaldo shows Guardiola that possession is not everything

How Real Madrid overcame Bayern Munich in first leg of Champions League semi-final

REAL MADRID took a big step towards the fabled 'decima' – a tenth European Cup win – by beating Bayern Munich 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final at the Bernabeu and leaving their old nemesis Pep Guardiola with a bloody nose. Guardiola, the former Barcelona coach who had never before lost at the home of Real Madrid, was forced to accept after the game that possession, of which his Bayern side had the lion's share, could not guarantee success as Karim Benzema's first half goal against the run of play proved to be the winner. If Madrid progress to the final at the expense of the German holders it will provide further ammunition for those who believe that the era of 'tiki-taka' football, pioneered by Guardiola, is coming to an end. His former club, Barcelona, look likely to finish the season without any major silverware after being knocked out of Europe by Atletico Madrid and losing to Real in the Copa del Rey final last week. Now, Guardiola's new team, which also adheres to his passing philosophy, has been exposed by the pragmatism of Real coach Carlo Ancelotti. Guardiola was forced to concede that "possession is only nine-tenths of the law in top-level football", notes The Times. "Guardiola, perhaps for the first time since starting work in Munich last summer, seemed concerned." As for Ancelotti, he got his tactics "spot on" says the paper. His side were solid at the back and "devastating on the counter-attack". For all Bayern's possession, they had 72 per cent of the ball on the night, they lacked cutting edge, says Henry Winter in the Daily Telegraph, "allowing the outstanding Xabi Alonso to organise the barricades". And the ultimate proof that possession is not everything came from Cristiano Ronaldo, who set up Real Madrid's 19th minute goal with only his third touch of the match. "Bayern Munich were on top, the ball theirs and theirs alone: in a little over quarter of an hour, the visitors had racked up a hundred passes more than their hosts," reports Sid Lowe of The Guardian. But after Real repelled yet another Bayern attack the ball reached Ronaldo who, uncharacteristically, played in his team-mate Fabio Coentrao, who in turn crossed for Benzema to tap home.  

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