Munich (Germany) (AFP) – Marco Asensio came off the bench to score the winner as Real Madrid claimed a 2-1 first-leg lead over Bayern Munich in their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.
Here are five things we learned from the first leg at the Allianz Arena:
Real have measure of Bayern
Real Madrid have had the wood on Bayern in recent seasons and the Germans now need an unlikely comeback at the Santiago Bernabeu next week to turn the form book around.
The humiliation of a 4-0 second-leg thrashing at the last-four stage four years ago was the lowest point of Pep Guardiola’s spell in charge at Bayern, while Cristiano Ronaldo scored five over two legs as Real won a thrilling quarter-final last season in extra time. Like 12 months ago, Bayern created plenty of chances against the Real defence, but were made to pay for errors at the back.
Changing of the Real guard
It was a rare quiet night for Ronaldo as he failed to score for the first time in 12 Champions League outings, but the absence of Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale from the starting XI called their futures into question.
When Zinedine Zidane reshuffled at half-time, it wasn’t one of the two missing members of ‘BBC’ that he turned to, but Asensio. The youngster scored the crucial winning goal, while Lucas Vazquez provided the assist and excelled on the wing before holding off the dangerous Franck Ribery when switched to right-back after Dani Carvajal’s injury.
Marcelo was all over the place defensively at times and was partly at fault for Bayern’s opener, but he has now scored more goals than any other defender in the Champions League knockout stage.
His seventh goal in the latter stages was a magnificent strike, adding to his goals against Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus earlier in the campaign. For all the gaps he leaves behind on his raids forwards, the Brazilian more than makes up for it by being one of Real’s most consistent attacking threats.
Bayern need fresh blood
Bayern have not bolstered their squad as much as their fellow European giants in recent years and it showed on Wednesday. Ribery, 35, was their best player on the night, but his fellow 2013 Champions League winners Jerome Boateng and Arjen Robben both hobbled off in the first half.
The German champions have barely been tested in romping to seven straight Bundesliga titles, but have repeatedly been shown their shortcomings in Europe.
A 3-0 loss to PSG in the group stage saw veteran coach Jupp Heynckes return in place of Carlo Ancelotti in October, but on Wednesday’s evidence, Bayern also need fresh blood on the pitch when Niko Kovac takes over as coach at the end of the season.
After Liverpool’s 5-2 victory over Roma on Tuesday saw some horrific defending from the Italians, both Real and Bayern were sloppy at the back and in possession during the second semi-final.
Casemiro and Marcelo were caught out of position for Joshua Kimmich’s goal, but goalkeeper Keylor Navas made a terrible error in gambling on the right-back crossing the ball. The two sides were generous in defence at times, with Bayern giving up their hopes of victory on the night with an atrocious pass by Rafinha.
If the final is anything like the two last-four first legs this week, fans can expect a host of goals in Kiev on May 26.
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