Benzema: Ancelotti out-thought Pep
Karim Benzema says that Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti won the tactical battle of minds with Bayern Munich counterpart Pep Guardiola in Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg.
• Honigstein: Positive attitude can't hide Bayern disappointment
• ESPN FC podcast: Champions League reaction
• Predictable Bayern slammed by Sammer
• Hunter: Guardiola tinkering cost Bayern
Bayern dominated possession over the 90 minutes at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, but struggled to break down a well-organised Madrid side who were happy to see their opponents pass the ball sideways and backwards in front of them.
Benzema scored with Madrid’s first chance, and Ancelotti’s side could have even taken a bigger advantage ahead of the return game with Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria missing decent opportunities.
The France international told AS that Ancelotti’s instructions to wait out spells of Bayern possession and then hit quickly on the break had worked perfectly.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult against a great opponent and it was,” Benzema said. “A very tough game from start to finish. It’s true they had a lot of possession, but we had the chances and scored the goal. That is the most important. We knew how to play in a very tactical way, and we caught them on the break. We were aware that Bayern is a team who like to have the ball. We had to be very well organised, all together and quick on the counter. And the truth is that tactic worked very well. We could even have scored two or three goals more.”
Benzema said that a 1-0 scoreline from the first leg was especially useful as Madrid, whose pacy attackers Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale should both be available to start in Munich, are likely to score an away goal in the return.
“It is a good result because we have a goal advantage and have kept a clean sheet, something which counts for a lot in this competition,” he said. “It will be a difficult game because at home they play good football and for sure they will have possession of the ball. But we have won the first leg and we are going there in good form. We have people to score in the Allianz Arena and an away goal should be decisive.”
Madrid now switch attention to the La Liga race, and Saturday’s straightforward looking game at home to struggling Osasuna at the Bernabeu. Benzema said that it was up to his side to keep their current winning streak going, and hope leaders Atletico Madrid slipped up in their remaining fixtures.
“We need to keep going like this, putting wins together,” he said. “We are going to play every game as if it were a final, hoping for Atletico to slip up.”