By Tonte Davies
It may not have been the result many anticipated but for Real Madrid and their global fans, the outcome suffices. Karim Benzema’s 19th minute goal made the difference in Wednesday’s semi-final first leg match against Bayern Munich at Santiago Bernabeu. In Munich, Germany, the goal may just be a key advantage for Real Madrid ahead of their second leg reverse fixture next week. However, the result is not a true reflection of how the game panned out.
“We played a world class team, in the Santiago Bernabeu, but still we dominated and were the better side. I expected more from Real Madrid,” said Bayern Munich attacker Arjen Robben. Robben’s comments reflect from a Bavarian perspective Madrid’s style of play. The attacker played for Los Blancos side from 2007-09 before joining Bayern Munich in 2009. He goes on to say “I expected Madrid to come storming out of the gates but instead they waited and allowed us to run the game.”
Real Madrid did not see much of the ball during the game but were menacing on the counter-attack. Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti though pleased with the result was not cheerful with the way his side’s nervy play. “I’m happy about everything, even if the game was hard. Sometimes we suffered but we played well on the attack,” Ancelotti mused. “We began a bit shy, being too defensive and having some problems,” Carlo Ancelotti further said.
Bayern head coach Pep Guardiola was visibly unhappy over the course of the game especially with his side’s inability to convert chances created. “It was a difficult game, but there is still a second leg and we will try to get every player in shape for that,” said Guardiola. The ex-Barcelona boss was however, full of praise for his opposing side saying “Madrid have always played like this. They are so quick. They let you play and wait for you to lose the ball.”
Los Blancos striker Karim Benzema remains optimistic about his side’s chances of reaching the Champions League final in Lisbon. Benzema’s goal gives Real Madrid a slight edge over Bayern Munich despite majority of possession in favour of the Bavarians. “The return leg is going to be just as difficult as tonight. Having said that, we are confident we can win,” Benzema is quoted as saying on Uefa’s website. The striker’s excitement was not hidden when he described the night as “special” acknowledging that Bayern is “…a great team but we played a very good game and we won.”
Previous meeting between both sides came in 2012 over a two-leg semi-final stage in the UEFA Champions League. That encounter ended in a 3-3 goal aggregate after both legs but was eventually determined on penalty shoot-out. Bayern Munich won the encounter and went on to play Chelsea FC in the finals in which the latter won to lift the trophy for the first time in their history.
The return leg is scheduled at the Allianz Arena on April 29 and is a fixture Bayern’s Thomas Muller says they “have a huge task ahead” of them.