Pitchside

Real Madrid bust the myth: It’s not how much, but what you do with it

Pitchside

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Real Madrid did not so much 'park the bus' against Bayern Munich, but strategically place a Ferrari in the driveway.

The difference between Chelsea’s so-called anti-football display against Atletico Madrid, and Real’s slick counter-attacking 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich was… well, the difference was in the detail.

[BENZEMA GIVES REAL ADVANTAGE]

Diego Simeone complained that only one team was trying to score at the Vicente Calderon, but to the north east of the city at the Bernabeu a similar underlying strategy yielded different results.

Pep Guardiola’s Bayern boasted a whopping 72% possession on Wednesday night, no mean feat at Real Madrid, yet the hosts fashioned more chances and carved out a 1-0 win.

It could have been more for Carlo Ancelotti, had Cristiano Ronaldo not missed a sitter and Manuel Neuer not made some inspired saves.

Apart from a late spell that saw the hosts get all hands on deck, and Xabi Alonso deny Thomas Mueller with a fantastic challenge, Bayern did not exactly set the world alight in front of goal.

Chelsea, of course, were limited by personnel. A fine team they are, but their main outlets of counter-attacking speed are Eden Hazard (injured), Samuel Eto’o (injured) and Mohamed Salah (cup-tied). Hazard aside, they are not in the same stratosphere as Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Angel Di Maria – Chelsea’s real quality lies in defence and central midfield – but a deep-lying breaking tactic requires speed and width.

And Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid side, accustomed to dominating teams in their domestic competition, had exactly that as they repeatedly carved Bayern apart on the counter.

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In his SkySports punditry Jamie Carragher rather quaintly reiterated that setting up to face Bayern “was not rocket science” (which, incidentally, hasn’t been at the forefront of technology since the 1970s, but we get his point).

It may not be intellectually challenging, but it does require organisation, planning, strict adherence to a gameplan and – in order to yield victory and not a simple shut-out – must be complemented with the pace and quality Real have at their disposal.

The job is only half done, of course; Bayern could easily beat Real in Munich, although the lack of an away goal means Pep’s team will need to attack, leaving them as prone at the back as they were on Wednesday.

His insistence on playing Philipp Lahm in central midfield will surely be cast aside, as it was late during this encounter – when you have the best right-back in the world, it would be foolish not to pit him against the best winger-forward in the world.

But it may not be enough. Neither Bale nor Ronaldo were fully fit on Wednesday, and both should be next week. It could well be even worse for Bayern.

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