Chances are, like many other Bayern Munich fans, you ran the gamut of emotions while watching Die Roten’s 2-1 loss to Real Madrid. The game was equal parts exciting, confusing, frustrating, thrilling, and disappointing; but for all of the yelling at televisions and unraveling on social media, absolutely no one was angrier about the outcome than Jupp Heynckes and his squad. Well, except maybe this guy:
The problem was, in nearly every sense of the word, finishing. Bayern had the best team in the world (yes...Real Madrid) on the canvas, but could not put them away. Instead, Die Roten let Los Blancos jab their way back into the fight to squeak out a close decision.
”We have ourselves to blame,” said Thomas Müller (quotes from Bundesliga.com)
We lacked coolness in front of goal and kept Real in the game as a result. This game is very difficult to digest, but we’ll also get chances in Madrid. But we’ll have to take them. We’re not giving up and we won there 2-1 last year (over 90 minutes). But we’ll need a killer mentality and will have to avoid individual mistakes.
Bayern did many of the things that normally would result in a win. They were relentless offensively and pushed the pace at a sturdy, yet vulnerable, Real Madrid defense. Many pundits consider Cristiano Ronaldo the best player on the planet, but Bayern made him a non-factor on the game’s biggest stage.
Bayern dominated the majority of the game, despite being undermanned and not terribly sharp or precise. Die Roten lost not one, but two key starters in the first half—and this does not even factor in the loss of David Alaba prior to the game when he was ruled unfit to play.
And not to belabor the point, but Bayern’s long-term injury list includes the man regarded as the best goalkeeper on Earth (Manuel Neuer), a dynamic winger (Kingsley Coman), and a human spark plug of intensity (Arturo Vidal); who would have all likely started or had key roles to play against Real Madrid. This is not an excuse or an apology, it is just the way it is.
A clear, statistical advantage
Regardless of the above, here we are once again after a loss against Real Madrid thinking about what might have been. Honestly, you are right to feel what emotions hit you after that contest. The game was there for the taking and the stats back it up:
- Bayern out-possessed Real Madrid 60.3% to 39.7%
- Bayern out-shot Los Blancos 17 to 7
- Bayern had more successful passes (86% for Bayern, 81% for Real Madrid)
- Bayern took 10 corners, compared to 3 for Real Madrid
The hit list of missed opportunities and botched chances reads better than anything Zinedine Zidane could have scripted for his team prior to the match:
- 33’: Franck Ribéry’s horrid touch after a perfect pass from Thiago
- 40’: Mats Hummels’s failure to convert a header pass from Robert Lewandowski that started from a corner
- 42’: Müller’s quality attempt hit a defender (just one minute before Marcelo tied the game)
- 45’: Lewandowski’s header was placed directly at Keylar Navas off of a beautiful set piece by James Rodriguez
- 45+2’: Lewandowski clearly got mugged without a call on corner just before the half ended
- 50’: Ribéry’s pass to a perfectly positioned Müller was deflected away
- 58’: Ribéry’s fancy footwork resulted in an open shot that he fired directly into Keylor Navas
- 56’: Rafinha’s bumbling mistake that led to Marco Asensio’s game winner and the subsequent pained look of Ulreich as the ball went by him
- 66’: The Müller/Lewandowski near-collision in front of the net that hindered an excellent opportunity
- 87’: Lewandowski’s missed chip over Navas after a superb pass from Tolisso (aka, the final nail in the coffin for the game)
Real Madrid satisfied, but shown their limits
Of course, the counterpoint to all those stats and chances is Real Madrid’s satisfaction in securing the away win as Zinedine Zidane pointed out.
I’m very satisfied because it was a difficult game. Especially at the start, we were constantly under pressure and had trouble clearing the ball cleanly. But the result doesn’t mean anything because Bayern are capable of making it up in the Bernabéu.
Where Real Madrid did succeed statistically was with tackles won (20-17) and dribbles (13-10). In the end, and as always, the only stat that really mattered was goals, which found Los Blancos holding a bitter 2-1 edge.
The contrast between the scoreline and the game was not lost on former Bayern man Toni Kroos:
We worked well as a team, but we were fortunate to get the win given the number of chances Bayern had. It was a tough piece of work. Bayern made it hard for us, but we’ll take the result with us and that’s good. But we can still play better.
As a fan, you should feel disappointed today, but like Bayern, your hopes should not be left for dead on the pitch at the Allianz Arena. As Henry Ford once said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, only this time more intelligently.”
A youth movement ready to take their swing
Joshua Kimmich’s goal gave Bayern a 1-0 lead and the team was confident, the crowd was raucous, and things were looking good, despite some choppy play. The fact that the end result was ultimately poor and a missed opportunity, was not lost on the squad, especially Kimmich:
We had to get a much better result from the game. We were too naive in front of goal. I didn’t think we would get so many chances - we didn’t even have that many clear chances in Hannover last weekend. Real won 2-1 away so they’re slight favorites now, but we’ll really give it everything over there.
Kimmich was not the only next generation Bayern star to voice his displeasure with the loss; which is exactly what—as fans—you should want to hear.
Corentin Tolisso (Bundesliga.com)
We should have scored more goals in the first half. In the return, we’ll have to put our chances away. Of course we still believe we can do it and nothing has been decided.
Niklas Süle (Goal.com)
After the match a number of Bayern stars were quick to show their disappointment in the result against a Real Madrid side that Süle deemed “weak”. “Nobody could have moaned if we won this match 5-2. I think I never saw Real Madrid this weak in a match in Munich.”
Kimmich went even further (Goal.com):
I’d go with 7-2. I think you’ve seen the game, too. We have two or three more chances in the first half, and in the second half Franck Ribery had a few more. I cannot list all the chances, but there were six to seven good ones.
James sends Kimmich on his way and the youngster opts to take it himself to give Bayern the lead. pic.twitter.com/itPsyxrJfl— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) April 25, 2018
Charging forward with a “New Hope” (Non-Skywalker type)
Real Madrid did enough to win, but are not invincible. Marcelo’s perfect “right place at the right time” strike evened the game before Rafinha’s horrible gaffe led to the game-winner. Jupp Heynckes knows his team let the game slip away, but also realizes his team was able to push Real Madrid to a level of discomfort that Los Blancos don’t often face.
The two goals we gave away were gifts. At this level, mistakes like that shouldn’t happen. We didn’t take our chances either—normally we’re more clinical. And that’s how the result came about. But I’ve rarely seen a Real Madrid team give up so many chances, so we’ll be traveling to Madrid with hope.
And heeding the advice of Heynckes is what you should do; have hope. Bayern lost a big game to team that has the proper battle armor and mettle for this time of the year. It hurts, but Bayern will move on knowing that it out-played the best team on the planet even if they came out with an ‘L’. With that knowledge comes confidence and with that confidence comes that hope we referenced above. Anything can happen at the Bernabéu no matter how unlikely it may seem right here, right now.
(All statistics were found on WhoScored.com)