A nice win for Real Madrid (1-0) but not one that makes them feel too safe heading into the second leg against Bayern Munich. The Germans and defending champions, as expected, were the better team and slightly more dangerous for most of the match, but found it hard to create good chances until way too late in the match.
Real’s strength in this one was going to be speed and counter attacks, and that was how they got their goal from Karim Benzema. Other than that, we really didn’t see too many chances from the Spanish side, except for one huge miss from Cristiano Ronaldo in the first half, mis-kicking a ball he got in front of a wide open net. His injury or rust, whatever you decide, was easy to notice, in another bad performance from the player who has had too many of them in recent weeks, when he’s actually healthy.
Bayern seemed to be stuck during too many mintues of the match, especially in the second half. The same cross and the same ideas against a disciplined Real Madrid defense, while not sending enough players to help Franck Ribery, Mario Mandzukic and Arjen Robben, who was probably the player who touched the ball more than anyone else during the second half. He didn’t have an overlapping help on the wing, and only late in the game, with Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze on the field, did Bayern once again look a bit more dangerous.
Ancelotti can be pleased. He has the inferior team, and goes into the next match without the urgency to score. Real Madrid feel more comfortable as the counter attacking, slightly defensive side, and showed they can handle most of what Bayern Munich can throw at them. He’ll need the same kind of focus, commitment and slightly brutish performance from his defense to make this win count for something, and get Real into the final for the first time since 2002.