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UEFA Champions League: 5 talking points from Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich

Real scraped through 4-3 on aggregate to reach their third final on the bounce.

Prithviraj Dev | New Delhi |

Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich was far from a foregone conclusion, despite Los Blancos’ lead from the first leg but the second leg more than lived up to its billing with a breathtaking 90 minutes which saw the Spaniards emerge triumphant with a 2-2 draw (4-3 on aggregate) on Tuesday night.

The second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final was evenly poised even though Zinedine Zidane’s men had the advantage after edging Bayern 2-1 at the Allianz Arena last week.

Bayern defender Joshua Kimmich, however, silenced the home crowd with an early goal and while Karim Benzema restored parity soon after, the stage was set for a rollercoaster of a tie.

Benzema would prove to be Real’s saviour with a brace, as would custodian Keylor Navas, as the 12-time champions just about did enough to reach their third final on the trot.

Here are the five major talking points from a fascinating tie in the Spanish capital:

Franck Ribery vs Lucas Vazquez: Spaniard holds his own, but Bayern overload flank

UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid C.F.,F.C. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich, Franck Ribery, Raphael Varane
Ribery (R) had nothing to show for his efforts at the end! (Photo: AFP)

 

After Ribery had tormented Bayern’s defence in the first leg, Vazquez must have been wondering what he had done wrong to be picked at right-back but the Spaniard actually held his own against the veteran winger.

Jupp Heynckes’ men weren’t shy of double-teaming Vazquez at every opportunity, despite the best efforts of Luka Modric (the Real midfielder on the right flank) and they did look extremely dangerous, especially in the first-half.

And while Dani Carvajal or even a fit Nacho are obvious upgrades over Vazquez at right-back, Los Blancos’ utility man put in a commendable shift on the night.

He came off the better, more often than not, from his one-on-one duels with Ribery and that’s no mean feat.

It must be added that both of Bayern’s goals came from attacks on their right flank ( Real’s left), which means Vazquez and Modric did just about enough despite playing in unfamiliar roles.

Karim Benzema justifies inclusion with killer brace

Karim Benzema, UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid C.F.,F.C. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich
Real’s unsung hero! (Photo: AFP)

 

With Gareth Bale out of favour, Isco injured and Vazquez deputising at right-back, the path was clear for Benzema to be restored to the starting lineup.

The French forward, who’s come under stinging criticism from fans and pundits alike for a series of underwhelming performances, made the most of his rare chance by popping up with a massive brace that might just have saved his manager’s job.

While he’s still odds on to depart the Bernabeu in the summer, the hardworking Frenchman has perhaps never quite been given the recognition he deserves. He definitely saved his side’s bacon on a night when his strike partner Cristiano Ronaldo had an anoynoyus showing.

If a striker keeps scoring goals, you can’t really bench him, can you?

All eyes will be on Zinedine Zidane as the El Clasico nears for on the basis of this display, Benzema deserves to start against Barcelona on Sunday.

Mohamed Salah will be smacking his lips at Real’s defending

James Rodriguez, UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid C.F.,F.C. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich
Rodriguez took advantage of some slack defending to score against his parent club! (Photo: AFP)

 

With all due respect to Roma, Liverpool look likely to be Real’s opponents in the final and their talisman—Mohamed Salah—will be relishing their showdown in Kiev.

Both Bayern and Real were guilty of some calamitous defending (and goalkeeping) over the course of the two legs and largely due to the usually-prolific Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo suffering from a lack of form, the first and second legs didn’t turn out to be goalfests.

Salah’s been the revelation of the season and it’s not just him, for the likes of Roberto Fimino and Sadio Mane make for an outstanding support cast.

Will Jurgen Klopp’s men be as profligate as Die Bayern were?

Probably not, and Zinedine Zidane has a lot of work to do as he seeks to shore up his defence with little over two weeks left for the final showdown.

Robert Lewandowski, not Sven Ulreich, lets Bayern down

Robert Lewandowski, UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid C.F.,F.C. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich
The sinewy Pole didn’t impress on his Bernabeu audition! (Photo: AFP)

 

Yes, Sven Ulreich had a night to forget in the Bayern goal, but where was Bayern’s vaunted forward when they needed him the most?

Edinson Cavani has come under so much slack for not performing on the biggest of stages and while Lewandowski is clearly a step above the Uruguayan, he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory over the course of two legs.

Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos may be two of the biggest names in world football, but everyone knows the Real Madrid duo has some obvious chinks in the armour and you would have bet on Lewandowski to find the back of the net.

His four-goal glut for Borussia Dortmund is still fresh in memory but despite arguably playing for a more compete side than Die Borussen, the Pole struggled to have any sort of an impact against Los Blancos.

Bayern were wasteful on the whole, but had their No.9 been on top form, they could very well have gone through to the final but will now have to be content with watching it on the telly.

Keylor Navas redeems himself with MoM display

Keylor Navas, UEFA Champions League, Real Madrid C.F.,F.C. Bayern Munich, Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich
Navas was the best Los Blancos player by a country mile! (Photo: AFP)

 

What a comeback.

After his clanger in the first leg, the Costa Rican custodian was under immense pressure but boy did he come up with a standout display.

It’s not everyday that a goalkeeper gets the Man of the Match despite conceding two goals, but this is an exception to the rule, surely.

Benzema would have been the leading candidate to scoop the accolade with his excellent brace, but he didn’t have anything on his teammate, it must be said.

Navas was everywhere, collecting and punching crosses, sprawling and scrambling across his goal line to make save after save while rushing out to cut out umpteen Bayern long balls.

The Costa Rican time and again stymied Die Bayern and while he may not be ‘Galactico Material’, he sure plays like it.