Created on 26-04-2018 at 14:20 PM
Following an unlucky 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg, there was a look of sheer disbelief on the faces of some of the Bayern players. The stars could scarcely grasp how they managed to leave the pitch as losers given the course of the match. But not one of them wanted to moan about it – the overall tone was one of defiance, and the message was clear: it’s not over yet!
Jupp Heynckes led the way. “We’ll do everything we can in Madrid to cancel out the first leg result. There are two legs to the semi-finals and nothing is decided until the end of the second encounter!” The team echoed their head coach. “It’s all still up for grabs,” said a confident Niklas Süle, while Sven Ulreich issued a battle-cry ahead of Tuesday’s second leg in Madrid: “We’ll go there confident we can turn it around.”
'It’s all still up for grabs!'
The reason Bayern are still optimistic of booking their place in the final in Kiev on 26 May, despite the difficult going-in position, is the way they performed against the Spaniards. Following Joshua Kimmich’s 28th-minute goal, the hosts had several good chances to increase the lead, with Franck Ribery and Mats Hummels both coming close. The equaliser for Real came out of nowhere via a Marcelo volley in the 44th minute. A minute later, Robert Lewandowski could have put his team back in front but his header just wasn’t accurate enough.
It was more of the same after the break, with Bayern keeping up the pressure but struggling to convert their chances. They were punished for their lack of decisiveness in the 51st minute, when Marco Asensio clinically finished off a counter-attack to make it 2-1. Franck Ribery alone had three chances to win the match for the Reds, but the ball just refused to cross the defending champions’ goal line. Afterwards, Thomas Müller was self-critical. “We failed to do the most important thing in football – score goals.” Kimmich even commented that Bayern could easily have won the match 7-2. “We were totally naïve and careless with our chances. It feels like Real had two shots and both ended in the back of the net,” the 23-year-old remarked.
Bayern ahead in almost all the stats
A look at the stats underlines Kimmich’s statements, with 17-7 shots on goal, 10-3 corners and 60% possession all recorded in Bayern’s favour. “Today’s game showed Real Madrid are vulnerable in defence, and we can garner hope from that,” said Heynckes. However, there are injury concerns prior to the clash at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Arjen Robben and Jérôme Boateng both had to be substituted before half-time, and in the 75th minute Javi Martinez came off after receiving a knock to his temple.
“We have a few injuries and will have to wait for the diagnoses before we can say who’ll make the second leg and who won’t,” commented sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic. The 41-year-old still believes the Reds can progress. “You have to be at your best against Real, and we’ll give it everything we’ve got,” he remarked, taking his optimism for the match from Real’s quarter-final matches against Juventus. Following a 3-0 win in Turin, the men from Madrid found themselves 3-0 down in the second leg, before a stoppage-time penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo edged them into the last four. “That shows you what’s possible,” Salihamidzic declared. It is indeed a long way from over yet!