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Write Real Madrid off at your own peril as Los Blancos show again why they’re built for Champions League glory

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Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League semifinal with Bayern Munich is going more or less according to a well-known script so far with the Spanish giants in the driving seat after a 2-2 draw at Allianz Arena on Tuesday set up next week’s return leg perfectly for Los Blancos. Carlo Ancelotti’s side still has work to do to see off Thomas Tuchel’s Germans in this battle between two European giants but the Italian tactician’s job has been made easier by the level aggregate score having been 2-1 down after leading 1-0 for most of the second half. Vinicius Junior scored once in each half in Bavaria either side of a superb Leroy Sane strike and a confident Harry Kane penalty to ensure that Real are still in the tie despite not always being at their best this midweek.

Granted, one of Bayern’s goals came from the spot, but so too did one of the La Liga leaders’ strikes and the hosts did have other chances to score as Tuchel threatened another one of his famous continental masterclasses. It was not to be and Real held on for a draw which Bayern will not be too disappointed about but it also makes the task so much harder for the deposed Bundesliga dominators who must now face the European masters in their Santiago Bernabeu home. Not just that, but Los Merengues’ supporters are all too familiar with this scenario which usually ends with Ancelotti’s men advancing to the next round which in this case will be the final.

We look at why you write Real off at your peril in these situations where nobody does it better than the Spaniards:

Mentality monsters

First and foremost, Real have a collective mentality that few clubs — if any — can get anywhere close to. True, Bayern would normally be considered one of those given their status as one of the European elite worthy of being in the same select band but there are levels to this and the playbook was written and bound in Madrid before Ancelotti’s time in the Spanish capital. This Real side is the product of years of success which has bred an almost divine right to Champions League success which has rubbed off on each and every single player. Hostile atmosphere in Bayern’s favor? No problem, Vini Jr. silenced the home fans. Unexpected Bayern turnaround early in the second half? No trouble either with the visitors capable of switching it up at a moment’s notice to grind out the result thanks to winning a penalty through sheer grit and determination.

Kroos control

Another key factor in much of Real’s success against Bayern on Tuesday stemmed from their Germany international maestro Toni Kroos who was sensational in midfield and produced a superb pass for Vini Jr. to score in the first half and split the Bavarian defense at will over the course of 90 minutes in Munich. If the 34-year-old is in similarly sparkling form just months out from UEFA Euro 2024 on home soil, then Real have a strong chance of advancing past Bayern given the greater control over proceedings that Ancelotti’s men will enjoy in Madrid compared with their Allianz Arena outing. If Kroos is allowed to get on the ball anywhere near as often as he did here, then his influence could directly dictate the outcome of this next game.

Ancelotti’s know-how

Taking the lead against Real in any sort of Champions League game is rarely advisable but especially not in a knockout round game given their ability to flip games on their head in a matter of minutes. This was a perfect example with Bayern seizing control before the hour through Sane and Kane only for the away team to react in strong fashion. Ancelotti’s vast tactical knowledge aids this and combined brilliantly with the mega mentality which all Real players appear to possess. Once that switch flips and the La Liga giants head into battle, there is rarely any other winner which Bayern now must try to disprove despite a plethora of history which speaks against their chances in Madrid.

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