Real Madrid make analysis futile in the Champions League. Whether they perform poorly or well, there is one constant: they win. On Wednesday, Los Blancos played with fire once again and, as usual, it was the other team that got burnt.
Bayern Munich will have fancied their chances after watching Juventus score three at the Santiago Bernabeu in the quarter-final second game as Zinedine Zidane’s side threw away a 3-0 first-leg lead and prevailed thanks to a contentious penalty converted by Cristiano Ronaldo in added time.
In this match, rarely, the Portuguese did not score, his second-half volley ruled out after it was adjudged (correctly) that he had used his arm before firing home. It was the first time he had failed to convert in the Champions League since last season’s semi-final second leg against Atletico.
Yet the result was the same. Real Madrid found a way. Even after going behind to a Joshua Kimmich drive when Marcelo was inexplicably out of position after retrieving a ball behind the goal, despite the fact that there are numerous footballs used in top games these days, and Keylor Navas going down far too early when he could have saved quite comfortably had he stayed on his feet.
Marcelo, earmarked by Bayern as one of Madrid’s key men, equalised for Real with a brilliant volley completely against the run of play before the break, and substitute Marco Asensio scored a second for Los Blancos in the second half. Zidane’s side, a team of moments, had done it again.
That left the Bavarians beaten by Madrid for the sixth time in a row and they will wonder why and how. To put it simply: Bayern were unable to take their chances, while Madrid buried theirs. And at this level, that is key.
This was a 150th European Cup win for Los Blancos in a competition they consider their own. And understandably so because they have won it 12 times, including three of the past four editions.
Last season, Zidane’s side beat Bayern in the quarter-finals, although they needed extra time at the Santiago Bernabeu to make it through despite winning 2-1 away – just as they have this time – in Germany.
Jupp Heynckes’ side will think they did enough to win the game and in fact, they did. Bayern created 17 chances in all to Madrid’s seven and their xG (expected goals) advantage of 1.75 was the biggest of a team to lose a match in this year’s Champions League.
That stat devised by Opta looks at chances created and gives a number of expected goals to each side. Bayern’s on Wednesday was 2.48, while Real’s was only 0.73. Yet those numbers were certainly not reflected by the result.
Not that Madrid will care. They are masters at this and will now be favourites to go on and advance to the final of the competition for a third year in a row and a fifth time in six seasons.
Did they play well? Not really. But even without a Ronaldo goal, they found a way to win. In Europe, they almost always do.