Real Madrid 1 Bayern Munich 0 comment: Pep Guardiola's idealistic revolution has a way to go – if he is given time by Bayern

Bayern dominated possession but could not make the break through

Bernabeu

From the shiny crown to the shiny shoes Pep Guardiola is a gift to football – building teams that sweep forward with short, sharp, diagonal passes and never a thought of “holding what we have”. Neutrals can only hope the heavy mob in the Bayern Munich boardroom give him the time to finish the job, because on tonight’s evidence the job is very much unfinished.

The sight of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on the halfway line whenever Bayern won a corner, and three times in the first half playing passes outside his area as full-backs abandoned duties they simply do not have in Guardiola’s team, contrasted with Real Madrid’s ruthlessly effective counter-attacking prowess – primed, it should be said, by Jose Mourinho, and now polished by Carlo Ancelotti – and it was a joy to watch.

But the Bayern power brokers who have tut-tutted at the team in recent weeks and at the way Guardiola’s side have finished the season, will have seen naivety and not bravery in Real’s goal.

Guardiola’s decision to move Philipp Lahm from right-back to central midfield has been a masterstroke… to a point – because it has meant Rafinha playing at right-back.

There were glimpses of all three of Guardiola’s Barça midfielders in Lahm in the first half – filling holes like Sergi Busquets, picking passes like Xavi, and even carrying the ball to the byline Andres Iniesta-style on the occasions when Real Madrid stood back and admired, leaving him with the time and space to do so.

 

Roberto Martinez took Leighton Baines to see a Lahm masterclass first hand at Old Trafford in the last round. If  Martinez can really turn him into the English equivalent then England and Everton will be thanking him for the next five years.

Karim Benzema slots the ball into the back of the net from close range Karim Benzema slots the ball into the back of the net from close range But Rafinha is too small a player to fill that huge Lahm-shaped gap at right-back and he was taken apart down the Madrid left by, of all people, Fabio Coentrao, going beyond Ronaldo to set up Karim Benzema for Real’s goal.

Guardiola’s side had monstered the possession stats, with 90 per cent of the ball in the first 15 minutes compared to Real Madrid’s 10 per cent, but it counted for nothing by half-time with Real Madrid 1-0 up.

Despite the attention to artistic impression, Guardiola is a winner and the statistic will have done nothing to improve his mood as he walked down the tunnel.

Benzema will remain at Real Madrid until 2019 Benzema will remain at Real Madrid until 2019 He walked away from Barcelona because he no longer believed he could make them win; he could have had them playing beautifully and losing for as long as they were prepared to let him stay, but he wanted to go on winning and he knew he would have to do that somewhere else.

That desire is also why Guardiola chose to go to Bayern and not take a more romantic Premier League option without the guarantees of domestic success.

He also walked away from Barcelona because he was being overruled by directors who knew better when he suggested certain big-name players would have to be moved on. It remains to be seen how Bayern react if players as iconic as Bastian Schweinsteiger or Franck Ribéry – whom he took off in the second half last night – are among the changes he wants to implement over the next two years.

Cristiano Ronaldo comes off to be replaced by Gareth Bale Cristiano Ronaldo comes off to be replaced by Gareth Bale If he continues to get free rein then the Guardiolisation of Bayern will continue, and player for player they will improve. Robert Lewandowski will lead the line next season and not Mario Mandzukic. They will also have a new right-back so that Lahm can continue in midfield and not have to shift back, as he did last night midway through the second half. There will be a new right-sided central defender too.

This year is perhaps the blip on the chart. A season’s dip that just maybe comes at the perfect time for Real Madrid. They have never been closer to winning their 10th European Cup, one up in the semi-final and knowing their greatest rivals will not meet them in the final.

There is plenty of football to be played in the second leg and Bayern will play much of it as they did in that first 15 minutes tonight, but it is Ancelotti and not Guardiola who has one foot in the final.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there