Controlling possession is one thing, but having an end product at the end of that possession is the payoff that wins you matches. Bayern Munich had all the possession they could possibly need against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernebeu, but never had the cutting edge where it really mattered to make it pay.
In fact, Madrid were the team who not only scored and won the game 1-0, but also had the more clear cut opportunities overall. They could have added more goals but wasted chances, with Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria wasting two of the better opportunities they had. Madrid sat deep and played compact to not allow Bayern the space to play through them, as Bayern so often do to teams.
Bayern really struggled to break them down or create any real chances though, and that is not something you can usually say about Bayern or a Pep Guardiola team. The style that Guardiola’s teams play have fell victim to these tactics before, but the majority of the time, they find a way; whether it’s Bayern Munich now or Barcelona when Guardiola was there.
Last season, Bayern beat Real Madrid’s rivals Barcelona 4-0 at home and 3-0 at the Camp Nou on their way to winning the Champions League. That was a team managed by Jupp Heynckes and the word that would describe those performances best is clinical. Today’s Bayern performance, back in Spain once again, was anything but clinical.
Guardiola is one of the finest coaches in the world, and he will know better than anybody that there are tweaks that need to be made to the current Bayern setup. Bayern looked similarly toothless in the last round when they played against a struggling Manchester United. United has shipped a ton of goals in the Premier League against the better teams in that division this season, and looked outclassed in a lot of those games, yet, for the most part, they were content against Bayern. The warning signs were there for Bayern.
Now, it has played out in a similar way against Madrid, only Madrid are clearly a better than United currently are, and they made them pay. Bayern will need to be better in the second leg — quicker tempo to their passing, more movement in midfield and in the final third, and more runs from midfield to occupy the Madrid defenders. Bayern have to move the Madrid defense around more in the second leg, as it was too comfortable for them in this game, almost predictable.
It’s Madrid’s advantage now, undoubtedly, but with the talent level Bayern possess and the manager they have at the helm, it’s a long, long way from over. You have to expect a reaction from Bayern back in Germany next week, and you also have to expect changes and an improvement from what they served up in the first leg. If they don’t improve, then the final four could very well be the end of their road, and the final itself could very well await for Madrid.