Real counters Bayern

I watched today's Real Madrid/Bayern Muenchen match with a great deal of curiosity.

I hadn't seen Madrid this season (at least not in the last couple months), and was a bit puzzled by their play.  Last season, it really struck me how aggressively they were attacking the ball in the midfield on defense.  In this game, they were mostly sitting back and only trying to interfere with passes between Munich players.

I wasn't sure whether it was a change in strategy for the year, or a single-game idea.

Regardless, they spent a lot of time early in the game watching Bayern pass around them.  They managed to keep Munich from getting good chances, but were getting almost no touches.

In fact, after a little while, I was IM'ing a friend with how many touches their most recent possession had.  The longest was twenty-one, until suddenly they had a twelve touch counterattack that went all the way into the back of the net (with some significant luck on avoiding defenders; the final cross went between the legs of two different defenders, ten yards or more apart).

That didn't seem to deter Bayern at all for quite a while, even though Madrid managed two more close counterattacks in the next ten minutes or so (one was pushed high by a Ronaldo only six yards or so from the net).

But despite a bunch of corners, Munich only managed one really good chance, and that shot was blocked by a defender five to eight yards out.

Real actually managed one more strong chance in the forty-first minute, but again pushed the ball over the net (it was a terrible strike, too, as he had time).

But that was about it, and the teams went into the half at one-nil.

The second half was played much more even, possessionally (counting by completed passes, I'd bet that Munich spent much of the first half at over 90% possession).  I don't think either team really had many strong chances, and Madrid was probably ahead there, again.  It had to be a frustrating day for Bayern (and especially for their one striker, Mandžukić, who was largely invisible).

But despite the possession balancing out a bit, the score stayed the same, and the game ended at one-nil.

The game was an interesting chess match, and I'm definitely looking forward to the second leg.

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