Last night we saw Real Madrid steal a victory away from Bayern Munich in the first rounds of their Champions League Semi-Final. Despite the fact Bayern had the lions share of possession at around 72% their short passing game didn’t allow them to overcome Madrid as they have done so many others.
Arjen Robben came out after the game and said he was surprised by Real’s defensive approach, I for one was not.
Over the past few seasons we have seen teams become more and more adept at shutting down the short fast passing that has become the hallmark of Pep Guardiola’s sides. The big one for myself was Chelsea against Barcelona the season in which Chelsea went on to win the Champions League. They quite simply let Barcelona pass it around in front of them and parked the bus. Now for all the beauty of the ‘tiki-taka,’ game with no penetration it’s about as useful as showing the cup of boiled water the tea bag instead of dunking it. You can do this hundreds of times and still you’d have no tea.
This is where Bayern come in and from what I’ve seen from them this season this is something they don’t lack. With Robben and Ribery out on the wings this is definitely not a problem area for Bayern. However a stoic defence can still deal with this as we saw last night. Despite late chances from Götze and Muller, Bayern were pegged back. And let’s face it, you would (unfortunately) put good money on Götze to score whatever the chance, let alone Muller.
For the next leg, at least for Real, they can take some consolation from the fact that despite lacking Gareth Bale and Ronaldo not being fully fit, they head into the next leg a goal up, knowing any goals at the Allianz could create a very interesting tie.
For me the tiki-taka play style Guardiola likes to instill in his teams does still have a place, but if Bayern come out slowly against Madrid in the coming game they may be punished and for all the time they show the tea bag to that cup of boiling water they will still have no tea.