Real Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich: Real’s counter-attack proves too good for Bayern

April 25, 2014

The starting line-ups

Real take a one-goal lead to Germany for next week’s second leg after another fine counter-attacking display.

Carlo Ancelotti stuck with the XI he used for last week’s Copa del Rey victory over Barcelona – with the exception of the returning Cristiano Ronaldo in for Gareth Bale, who was ill.

Pep Guardiola surprisingly named Rafinha at right-back with Philipp Lahm in his central midfield role, and also took the curious step of moving Bastian Schweinsteiger to the top of the midfield triangle.

Apologies for being unable to come up with the usual ZM piece, but I’ve written an analysis of the game for the Guardian and other duties mean I don’t have the time to write something similar here.

However, as well as the usual diagram to the left, there’s the usual StatsZone grabs below.

The Guardian piece, along with these graphics, should hopefully form the usual analysis – if you jump between two tabs accordingly…

Usual service will be resumed shortly!

This shows Luka Modric’s outstanding performance, completing 97% of his passes and also helping to win the ball high up the pitch:

This shows the different roles of Toni Kroos, who sat very deep in a pocket of space and therefore saw lots of the ball, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, whe played higher up to press Real’s central midfielders. It was strange to see them deployed in these positions, considering they usually play the other way around.

Finally, the passing graphs make for interesting viewing – Bayern clearly dominated possession, but Real played the killer ball:


It was no surprise that this was counter-attack against possession play, and it was clear Guardiola wanted his players to be cautious with their use of the ball to guard against Real’s quick breaks. But this didn’t entirely work, with Real creating the best opportunities of the game. Bayern’s passing was too slow and predictable to break down the Real backline.

Two specific selection decisions from Guardiola were also odd. It was strange to use Rafinha, rather than Lahm, at right-back against Ronaldo, by far Real’s best attacking weapon. Both the goal, and Real’s other best chance (Benzema teeing up Ronaldo) came from Bayern’s right-back zone.

The use of Schweinsteiger high up the pitch didn’t work too well either. He won the ball a few times, but overall was outshone by Modric – and he looked uncomfortable receiving the forward passes in tight positions with his back to goal. Kroos would have made more sense there, while Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller (who both provided a spark from the bench) are better attacking options.

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