Bayern beaten by 'real athletes'

ONLY GOAL: Real Madrid's Benzema (right) celebrating after scoring during the Champions League semi-final first-leg match against Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on Wednesday night.


    Apr 25, 2014

    Bayern beaten by 'real athletes'


    BAYERN Munich boss Pep Guardiola admitted that his side had struggled to contain Real Madrid's pace on the counter-attack as Los Blancos secured a 1-0 advantage from the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.

    Karim Benzema scored the only goal of the game on 19 minutes from one of a series of Real counter-attacks in the first half that caught the European champions wanting at the back.

    "Madrid have athletes. They are footballers, but they are real athletes," said the former Barcelona boss after suffering his first defeat in eight games as a coach at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    "It is easy to say we need to play more vertically, but the quicker we move the ball forward, the quicker it comes back and that can be very dangerous for us."

    Bayern enjoyed 63 per cent of the possession, but failed to create many clear-cut opportunities as Real defended in numbers.

    And Guardiola expects more of the same when his side try to turn the tie around on home soil at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

    "The next game will be exactly the same. We need to control their counter-attacks, but it is a question of finding the right balance.

    "Madrid are a complete team and it is true that not scoring away from home makes the tie very difficult.

    "However, we will be at home, with our fans behind us, and we will give everything to reach the final."

    Real boss Carlo Ancelotti admitted that he did not like having to relinquish control of the ball for large spells to the Germans but was pleased that they had won despite their two biggest names not taking a leading role.

    Just as in Real's Copa del Rey victory over Barcelona last week, the Italian believed his side had played to their strengths.

    "I don't like to give up the ball. It is clear that you cannot control the ball for the whole game, but especially against Barca and Bayern, it is very difficult to control it.

    "Football, though, is not just about possession, but defending, counter-attacks and many other things. What we had tonight was the sacrifice of the players, but I don't like not having the ball because you have less chance to score."

    Cristiano Ronaldo struggled after returning from injury and record signing Gareth Bale played only the final 20 minutes following a bout of the flu.

    Ancelotti admitted that Ronaldo's withdrawal had been a pre-meditated measure to ensure he did not run the risk of aggravating the injury, but expects both he and Bale to be 100 per cent fit for the return leg.