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Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich – UCL Semi-final 2nd Leg: A Deep Dive into the Tactical Analysis

The first leg ended in a 2-2 draw, leaving this matchup between two of Europe’s most consistently successful clubs finely balanced. This equilibrium was evident in a cautious first half, during which both goalkeepers adeptly handled the limited scoring opportunities. The closest moment to a goal came when Vinicius Junior’s shot, 13 minutes into the game, grazed the Bayern post after a touch by Manuel Neuer.

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Soccer Football – Champions League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Real Madrid v Bayern Munich – Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain – May 8, 2024 Bayern Munich’s Eric Dier and Manuel Neuer look dejected after the match REUTERS/Juan Medina

Real Madrid intensified their offensive efforts in the second half, with Vinicius posing a notable threat. However, Bayern, akin to Real Madrid’s own tactics against Champions League rivals, absorbed the pressure and capitalized on the counterattack with a superbly struck shot by Alphonso Davies.

With Wembley almost within reach for Bayern, the unpredictability of Real Madrid surfaced. Even a relatively unknown player like Joselu, formerly of Espanyol, could transform into a Champions League hero. His two goals in three minutes ignited a fervent atmosphere at the Bernabeu and astonishingly secured Carlo Ancelotti’s team a spot in the Wembley final, albeit not without some late contentious moments.

Read More: Why Carlo Ancelotti Should Be Considered Among The Greats And Why Is He Underappreciated?

Real Madrid’s Resilience: How Have They Overcome the Odds Again

Real Madrid’s recent triumph adds another chapter to their storied legacy. Despite securing their 36th La Liga title and clinching the Supercopa de Espana earlier in the season, the allure of the Champions League remained unmatched.

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The squad faced significant setbacks with injuries to key players throughout the campaign, including their first-choice goalkeeper and center-back duo sidelined with anterior cruciate ligament injuries. While winning the league title showcased their resilience, the true measure of success for Madrid lies in European glory, a fact not lost on them as they geared up for a pivotal encounter against Bayern.

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Match Stats, Image Credits – The Athletic

An unexpected curling strike from Alphonso Davies momentarily rattled Carlo Ancelotti’s team, and their fortunes seemed further strained when Nacho’s goal, assisted by Matthijs de Ligt, was disallowed due to a push on Joshua Kimmich. Yet, as history often repeats, Real Madrid found a way to defy the odds.

In a twist of fate, it was substitute Joselu who emerged as the unlikely hero. Having previously failed to make a significant impact during stints at Stoke and Newcastle United, Joselu’s late-game heroics were emblematic of Madrid’s indomitable spirit. His first goal capitalized on a rare mistake from the typically reliable Manuel Neuer, while his second was a testament to his opportunistic positioning, converting a ball across the goal from Antonio Rudiger. The ensuing euphoria at the Bernabeu was only momentarily tempered by a tense VAR review, underscoring the drama and resilience synonymous with Real Madrid’s European endeavors.

How Does Manuel Neuer Bounce Back From This: Overcoming Setbacks in Football

Manuel Neuer’s recent mishap, allowing Joselu to score on the rebound, undoubtedly weighed heavily on him, potentially costing Bayern Munich a spot in the Champions League final.

This incident draws parallels to a similar misfortune experienced by Oliver Kahn during the 2002 World Cup final against Brazil. Despite Kahn’s outstanding performance throughout the tournament, a similar mistake occurred, echoing Neuer’s recent plight.

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Soccer Football – Champions League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Real Madrid v Bayern Munich – Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain – May 8, 2024 Real Madrid’s Joselu celebrates scoring their first goal as Bayern Munich’s Manuel Neuer looks dejected REUTERS/Susana Vera

While Neuer’s impact on Bayern’s Champions League campaign may not have been as dramatic as Kahn’s in the World Cup, his performance at the Bernabeu was nothing short of exceptional. For 87 minutes, Neuer showcased brilliance reminiscent of his peak form, particularly evident in his double save during the first half, reminiscent of his prowess before suffering a broken leg while skiing 18 months prior.

It’s undeniably cruel that Neuer’s stellar performance wasn’t rewarded with better luck. This unfortunate turn of events may spark discussions regarding his age and longevity in the sport. However, in football, unpredictability reigns, and despite Neuer’s resilience, the game can be unforgiving.

Aleksandar Pavlovic: A Bright Spark for Bayern

In a night filled with uncertainties for Bayern Munich, Aleksandar Pavlovic emerged as a shining beacon, reaffirming what many already knew — his immense talent.

Pavlovic’s roots in Bavaria add another layer of significance to his stellar performance. Born and bred in Munich, nurtured within Bayern’s academy, his connection to the club runs deep. Despite his limited Bundesliga appearances, Pavlovic’s burgeoning popularity is evident in the multitude of replica shirts adorned with his name on match days.

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Aleksandar Pavlovic’s Pass Map Against Real Madrid, Image Credits – The Athletic

However, being a local talent is just the beginning. Pavlovic possesses a rare gift for advancing the ball, fundamentally altering Bayern’s approach in possession. His elegance and effectiveness on the field were unmistakable, as he deftly sliced through Real Madrid’s defensive lines. With his lanky frame, slightly unconventional movement, and unorthodox skills, he evoked memories of a young Fernando Redondo.

Pavlovic’s performance in such a crucial match against a formidable opponent underscores the magnitude of his talent. Bayern fans aren’t merely drawn to him out of obligation or hometown bias; his prowess on the field speaks volumes. As Bayern undergoes a period of transition, Pavlovic appears poised to become the creative force in their midfield, injecting a sense of originality and promise into the club’s future.

Toni Kroos: Mastering the Midfield. Again.

Toni Kroos showcased his brilliance once again in a Real Madrid jersey, highlighting why he’s been a joy to watch this season. As his contract nears its end this summer, the 34-year-old midfielder has proven that he still has plenty to offer.

In the first leg at the Allianz Arena, Kroos orchestrated Madrid’s play, delivering a sublime pass to set up Vinicius Junior’s opening goal and boasting an impressive 93% pass success rate, completing 80 out of 86 passes. His influence continued into the first half at the Bernabeu, where he maintained a staggering 96% completion rate, albeit with slightly less impact due to Bayern’s tightened defense compared to the previous encounter.

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Toni Kroos’ Pass Map Against Bayern Munich, Image Credits – The Athletic

The opening half was marked by cautiousness, with Vinicius Junior’s 13th-minute chance standing out as the most notable opportunity. Despite the tension, it was evident that Kroos remained a pivotal figure, dictating Madrid’s rhythm from his customary “quarterback” role.

Kroos’s consistent performances throughout the season affirm that he still possesses the vision and precision to control the midfield, leaving no doubt that he remains a crucial asset for Real Madrid, regardless of his contract situation.

A Contrasting Tale of Flanks: Bayern’s Right vs. Left

The dynamics of Bayern Munich’s attacking play in the semi-final clash against Real Madrid highlighted stark differences between their right and left flanks.

In the first leg, Leroy Sane’s positional shift to the right wing ignited Bayern’s most potent offensive maneuvers. Capitalizing on Joshua Kimmich’s overlapping runs, Sane found space to cut inside and score a crucial goal early in the second half. Thomas Tuchel maintained faith in Sane on the right flank for the return leg, where his width forced Real Madrid’s Ferland Mendy to engage him near the touchline, creating opportunities for Kimmich to exploit half-space areas.

However, despite the promising setup, Bayern struggled to capitalize on their right side. While the runs were well-timed, the final pass often lacked precision or was thwarted at critical junctures, undermining their effectiveness.

In contrast, Bayern’s left side faced adversity when Serge Gnabry exited the game due to a hamstring injury, paving the way for Alphonso Davies to enter the fray. Despite initial doubts about Davies replicating Gnabry’s attacking prowess, the Canadian international defied expectations by cutting inside onto his weaker right foot and delivering a stunning strike to give Bayern the lead.

Amidst a lineup brimming with attacking talent, Davies emerged as an unlikely hero, showcasing his ability to deliver when it mattered most, thus altering the narrative of Bayern’s flank dynamics for the night.

What Did Don Ancelotti Have To Say About This Turnaround?

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Soccer Football – Champions League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Real Madrid v Bayern Munich – Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain – May 8, 2024 Real Madrid’s Antonio Rudiger, coach Carlo Ancelotti and Vinicius Junior celebrate after the match REUTERS/Susana Vera

Carlo Ancelotti kept believing, even when his team were trailing. “We put fresh legs on the pitch,” he told TNT Sports after the game. “Joselu is a fantastic striker, we could use the wings more and get crosses in. We did really well and had a lot of energy at the end of the game.

The Italian also praised his players’ mentality to keep winning games from difficult positions. “I am really grateful to them, they work really hard, they are really humble, really generous. I think it’s the best squad I have ever had in my career.

What Did Frustrated Tuchel Have To Say After The Loss?

Thomas Tuchel was very disappointed with the final stages of the game. “A very unusual mistake from our very best player (Neuer) for the equaliser,” he told TNT Sports.

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Soccer Football – Champions League – Semi Final – Second Leg – Real Madrid v Bayern Munich – Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain – May 8, 2024 Bayern Munich coach Thomas Tuchel looks dejected after the match REUTERS/Juan Medina

Then we conceded in a very narrow decision for the second one in stoppage time. Then we scored one… before a disastrous decision from the linesman and from the referee. It feels almost like a betrayal in the end.”

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