Bayern Munich 1-2 Real Madrid: 3 key battles that decided the game
A look at 3 individual battles that played a part in Real Madrid's clinical away win over Bayern Munich in their Champions League fixture.
Real Madrid and Bayern Munich played out a shocking snooze-fest of a first leg fixture at the Allianz Arena, as visitors Real Madrid came back from a goal down to win 1-2 with goals from defender Marcelo and substitute Marco Asensio.
The adjective "sloppy" isn't usually associated with Bayern - famed for their incisive passing and predatory instincts - but this was a match in which hardly any of the players looked fully awake, barring the aging Ribery. Despite going a goal down, Madrid were in cruise control for the entirety of the match and will take home a considerable advantage.
As usual, there were a few individual battles that went a long way in deciding the final result of the fixture. Here's a look at 3 such battles that ultimately had a say in the game:
#1 Raphael Varane vs Robert Lewandowski
It is not very often that Lewandowski has a bad game, but last night was an absolute shocker for the dynamic striker.
Not only did he miss a chance to equalise for Bayern late into the second half, his positioning and awareness in the box were strangely off. The Polish striker usually finds himself in the right position to attack the ball, but he was all over the pitch in this game - and it is understandable that Bayern as a whole suffered.
Whether it was due to the injury to Robben that impacted their attacking game plan or just fatigue catching up to him, it cannot be determined. Whatever it was, the Red Ballet didn't even open.
A fully motivated Lewandowski might have been a handful for Varane, but he will not be complaining. He overpowered the forward in the air as well, not letting him get too much space whilst also defending the box well - one crucial touch from the Frenchman took the ball away from a potential Müller tap-in.
There is no guarantee that Varane will have it this easy against Lewa in the return leg, and the neutrals will hope that won't be the case as well. It would be interesting to see how this particular battle pans out then, but for the moment Varane couldn't have had an easier night of marking.