It was another tactically spot on performance from Carlo Ancelotti's side. A week on from their victory in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, the same approach worked a treat once again.
These tactics are nothing new to Los Blancos, having been under the rule of Jose Mourinho for a couple of seasons. Madrid are arguably the most devastating team in European football on the counter-attack and it was no different here.
Pep Guardiola acknowledged as much after the match, telling a Press conference that Madrid have no equals on the break. “They have a lot of legs and are the best team in the world on the break. The match was as they wanted it to be,” the former Barca Coach lamented.
Against a Bayern Munich side who base their philosophy on possession football, keeping the ball and moving their opponents around the pitch, Madrid played it perfectly to become firm favourites to progress to the final. Xabi Alonso had warned pre-match that it was more important to use the ball well than merely have it, and so it proved.
Madrid were organised and resolute in defence, letting Bayern have the ball while not allowing any space in dangerous areas and hitting the German side on the break with great success.
Despite all Bayern’s possession, Madrid will be kicking themselves that the game only finished 1-0. The hosts had plenty of chances to see off the fixture in the first-half and next week may come to rue the missed opportunities.
The ease with which Madrid caught their opponents on the counter bodes well for the return leg in Munich, though, and Madrid are sure to exploit that again at the Allianz Arena.
Bayern will have to come out and attack in the second-leg, meaning, in theory, that Madrid will have more chances on the counter. With the pace and power they possess on the counter-attack it’s hard to see Madrid failing to score. Guardiola’s side would then need three.
On Wednesday’s evidence you’d be unlikely to back Bayern to breach the Madrid defence three times. The Champions League holders have dominated European football in recent years but now they appear to lack the spark that gave them the edge over the rest.
Bayern were toothless in attack and a distinct lack of pace made their play predictable and perfectly suited for Madrid’s game. There was no one running in behind the defence and causing problems for Pepe and Sergio Ramos. It was easy for Madrid.
With the players at Bayern’s disposal they can’t be ruled out of the tie, but they have to add penetration to their possession.
For Ancelotti it will be a case of same again next week. The first-leg was a job well done and a second such display will seal the victory, putting Madrid on the way to Lisbon and a game away from the much-wanted La Decima.