UEFA Champions League 2016-17: Real Madrid 4-2 Bayern Munich (6-3 aggregate), 5 Talking Points
Cristiano Ronaldo reached a tremendous Champions League milestone as Real Madrid blew past Bayern Munich on their way to the UCL semifinals
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a perfect hattrick (header, left footer, right footer) and Marco Asensio capped off a superb run with an even better finish as Real Madrid cancelled out a Robert Lewandowski and a scrappy Sergio Ramos own-goal as they ran out 4-2 winners on the night; 6-3 on aggregate.
At the end, it was more than a touch harsh on Bayern Munich who could rightly complain that they never got the rub of the gree anytime during the tie, but then that’s how things are in football – some go your way, some don’t. Here are the five key talking points from what was a truly epic Champions League quarterfinal:
#1 The Isco conundrum shows once again why the system must triumph over the individual
Isco deserved to be in the side today. He has been excellent this season, and never more than over the weekend where he was nigh untouchable – as good, if not better, than any Real Madrid player has been all season. And he was very good today as well – showing a rare proclivity towards making tackles, and showcasing that near-supernsatural dribbling ability of his on many an occasion.
But he shouldn’t have started today.
In the last game, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo had done some excellent defensive work-rates to shut down Bayern’s wings completey - Los Blancos 4-3-3 seamlessly seguing into a 4-5-1 when they were without the ball. Today, they started with a 4-4-2, and with the midfield four packed with central midfielders whose natural instincts are to always show a runner down the wing, they were overwhelmed continously on both wings (especially the right, where Arjen Robben and Philipp Lahm were absolutely immense).
What they gained in terms of personnel they lost in the integrity, or lack thereof, of the sytem. It took Zidane nearly 70 minutes before he corrected it with the introduction of Lucas Vazquez to complement Marco Asensio, and in that 4-3-3 he gained back a measure of control. If Robert Lewandowski had been a 100%, that may very well have not been enough