November 18, 2017

Real Madrid vs. Bayern München – Player Ratings

Franck Ribery said that this match was the most important of his career.  Having missed out on the 2010 final due to suspension one cannot blame him for making such a statement.  Ribery has been Bayern’s outstanding player this season but the onus was on everyone else to step up their game to ensure they reached the final in their own stadium.  The same was true of Madrid who after beating their arch rivals and all but clinching the league wanted to return to their first European final in a decade.   Using the time tested kicker ratings here are the Fanatic’s player ratings for yesterday’s match.  This is a feature we will hope to bring you more of with big matches in the near future.

kicker rates players on a scale of 1 to 6, 1 being the best and 6 the worst with intervals of .5 in between for variation.

Real Madrid

Iker Casillas2 –  Saint Iker, as he is known in Spain, was one of Madrid’s busiest players but his experience ensured that Bayern’s momentum and flurry of goal scoring opportunities over 120 minutes never materialized to more than just that.  Most importantly, Casillas single handedly got back Madrid into the game after it seemed they were all but done following Ronaldo and Kaka’s misses in the shootout.  Used to penalty shootouts at the highest stage, both at the 2002 World Cup and more recently at the 2008 Euros, Casillas did well to stop Kroos and Lahm’s penalties.  One could not have asked more of him.

Alvaro Arbeloa3.5 – After a disappointing performance in the first leg Arbeloa was in charge of marking Bayern’s most dangerous player and did rather well.  Granted, Ribery was not at his best, but Arbeloa stayed more disciplined, did not over commit in challenges and kept up with the speedy French winger for much of the game.  Having said that, marking Ribery that closely also meant that he failed to contribute much going forward but overall it was an improvement over the first leg.

Pepe3.5 – Madrid’s ticking time-bomb. The Portuguese center back can often be a liability waiting to happen.  In the first leg he was one of Madrid’s better performers.  This time around one moment of madness may have caused Madrid a spot in the final.  His clumsy handling of Gomez in the first half led to Bayern’s goal, something that Madrid never bounced back from and something that ultimately led to the penalty shoot out.  Pepe defended well otherwise but in big matches like this it is often split second decisions that affect the outcome.

Sergio Ramos 3 – Pepe’s partner in defense too had a solid match, certainly compared to the one in München.  Although the moment everyone will remember is his wasted penalty, Ramos did a formidable job to keep Gomez out.  His build up play was especially good (Madrid’s second best passer) and his strength in the air helped Madrid defend quite well on set pieces.

Marcelo2.5 – Following Coentrao’s disappointing performance in the first leg, Mourinho started the more energetic attack minded Marcelo, a tactic that many thought would expose Madrid defensively, but actually made them more dangerous.  Marcelo’s relentless willingness to take players on resembles that of a winger rather than a fullback.  His cross led to Madrid’s first goal and his runs up the field meant Robben had to do quite a bit of defending.  One of Madrid’s best on the night.

Sami Khedira3 – Khedira was up against many of his Germany teammates.  In the first leg Khedira was one of the standout players and while he didn’t quite match that performance this time around he was one of Madrid’s hardest working players.  His engine and ability to cover ground quickly helped Madrid’s fullbacks against the dangerous Ribery and Robben. That energy also led to a good scoring opportunity early on and a vital clearance in the first half against Ribery.

Xabi Alonso2 – Another one of Madrid’s disappointing performers in the first leg.  Having played in quite a few Champions League semi finals now, this was his fourth appearance at this stage, many expected more of Alonso.  This time he delivered.  Alonso was back to his best yesterday and showed that there are few better long range passers in the game than him.  Not only was he Madrid’s best passer, he also dictated the tempo in the first half, distributed the ball with ease and orchestrated many of Madrid’s dangerous counter attacks.

Angel di Maria4 – Real Madrid’s weak link against Bayern.  The Argentine winger started strongly and had good opening 15 minutes before eventually dissipating in the tension and clutter of the game.  Alaba found it increasingly easy to get up the field as the game progressed.  Di Maria did not contribute much defensively, won the least amount of challenges on his team and was rightfully replaced on 75 minutes.

Mesut Özil2 – Another one of Madrid’s stronger performers.  Özil got the all important away goal in the first leg and assisted Ronaldo’s second in this match.  Criticized for his lack of stamina and tendency to fade during matches, the playmaker ran non stop for all 111 minutes he was on the pitch, was always eager to take on players, and accommodated Mourinho tactically whenever necessary.  He started in the center, went out left in the first half and then out to the right when Di Maria left the game, all while remaining dangerous and a big nuisance to the Bayern defense.

Cristiano Ronaldo2 – For a moment it looked as if Ronaldo was going to single handedly push Madrid into the final.  His first goal was his 25th consecutively converted penalty for the club and his second was a combination of great anticipation and clinical finishing.  Without a doubt Madrid’s most dangerous player, Ronaldo also came close with a free kick in the second half.  He also won a team high 14 challenges.  His penalty miss at the end was a bitter pill to swallow after a very good performance.

Karim Benzema3 – Dangerous in bursts.  The French striker had some very good opportunities spread throughout the game including a curler that would have been one of the goals of the competition but his inconsistency was evident.  He did well to get past his marker a couple of times but often lacked the end product.  He was also set up with a chance by Ronaldo in the first half but misguided the ball.  Not an invisible performance by any means but not as good as his German counterpart.

Substitutes

Kaka3.5 – The Brazilian was brought on to help Madrid maintain possession and unlock a seemingly stuttering Bayern backline.  On one hand he did help stabilize Madrid defensively and in the center of the pitch but on the other hand did not have much of a say in creating another goal for Madrid.  He was involved in one decent chance in extra time but wasted it.  A better performance than the player he replaced but not the impact Mourinho hoped for.

Esteban Granero –  Came on in the 111th minute for Özil, not enough time to warrant a rating or make much of an impact

Gonzalo Higuain – Came on in the 106th minute, not enough time to warrant a rating or make much of an impact.

Bayern München

Manuel Neuer1 – Penalty shootouts either make or break goalkeepers.  They are often called a gamble because of their almost unpredictable outcome.  That is, unless your goalkeeper happens to be one of the best in the world.  Agains Madrid, Neuer showed why Bayern paid the big bucks for him in the summer.  Neuer’s two saves against Ronaldo and Kaka in the shootout were outstanding in their own right, saves not many goalkeepers would have made.  Neuer was also dominant in the air throughout the game, had great control of his box and never showed any nerves.

Philipp Lahm2 – The captain led by example.  He may have been to blame for Madrid’s second goal but otherwise had an inspiring performance and heroic effect on the rest of the team.  As he did in the first leg, Lahm drove the team forward with every chance, never afraid to ask for the ball and always present to make the overlap on the right. Lahm did as good a job keeping Ronaldo in check as anyone would.  The most impressive thing about Lahm is that he does not let in match circumstances affect his play and that resonated with the rest of the team which allowed them to come back after going down two goals.

Jerome Boateng2.5 – One of his best performances in a Bayern shirt.  Boateng may have played Ronaldo onside on the second goal but with increasing nerves and two players in the backline booked later on in the game, his speed of thought and anticipation helped keep Madrid from scoring that crucial third goal. While other players legs tired, Boateng’s athleticism and physicality came in great handy against the likes of Ronaldo, Benzema and Kaka.  Boateng even played in extra time with a cramp.

Holger Badstuber3  –  A solid overall performance from the young center back.  Badstuber was again one of Bayern’s best passers and most involved players but did let Benzema get the best of him on a few occasions and his temperament and overzealousness cost him a spot in the final.  His distribution was good as was his reading of the game but this time around he was less effective with his tackles and lost quite a few of his challenges.  Overall still commendable given his age and the occasion.

David Alaba2 – Alaba could have easily let his head hang after his early booking and penalty, allowed the possibility of missing the final to completely affect his game and eventually become a liability to the team.  Instead, the 19 year old Austrian grew from strength to strength and made the left flank his own.  His darting run early in the first half was the perfect example of his dynamism, enthusiasm and ability.  He slowly took Di Maria out of the game and combined well with Ribery all match long.

Luiz Gustavo3.5 – One of the unsung heros of the first leg.  The Brazilian defensive midfielder took a more cautious approach than usual having been booked in the first leg so he was a bit more hesitant than usual to make a tackle or commit early, especially in the first half.  But when the game shifted more to the center Gustavo played a more significant role and did well.  He won a team high 18 challenges and made some crucial interceptions. A rash challenge late in the game eventually cost him a spot in the final though.

Bastian Schweinsteiger2 – Close to being back to full fitness, Bayern’s symbolic leader will be most remembered for his celebration after his penalty decided the match.  His performance should be just as memorable though.  Not only was he Bayern’s most active player but he was also the best passer on the pitch by far, completing an impressive 99 passes.  Schweinsteiger’s industry, intelligence and leadership were crucial against Madrid, whether it was filling in for Alaba on the left or taking the deciding penalty, Bayern were always able to count on him.

Arjen Robben2.5 – For a moment it seemed as if Robben would relive the nightmare he had two weeks ago against Dortmund, especially after missing a big chance early in the game.  Thankfully the Dutchman pulled it together, scored Bayern’s only goal in regular time and remained a threat throughout.  Robben used every drop of energy to take on Madrid players and serve as Bayern’s most direct attacking outlet.

Toni Kroos1 – Schweinsteiger has been touted as the “German Xavi” in the last two years but it is Kroos who has meticulously orchestrated Bayern’s run to the final this season.  Whether in a deeper position in central midfield or in an advanced role behind the striker, Kroos has taken his game to another level this year.  Against Madrid he was the key player again, making defense splitting passes, tracking back when needed and always available for his teammates to link up with.  A true master-class performance for a player with the world at his feet.

Franck Ribery3 – A disappointing game by his high standards but after the torment he caused Madrid in the first leg Mourinho was more prepared this time.  Khedira and Alonso often aided Arbeloa when Ribery was on the ball, making it difficult for the Frenchman to get past his opponents or find space.  Only 1 of Ribery’s 8 take-ons were successful and he was a lot less dangerous than he usually is in front of goal.  Having said that, Ribery put in a great shift defensively and ran his socks off, won more challenges than any other Bayern player and always demanded the ball eventually asking to be taken off due to exhaustion.

Mario Gomez2 – Not a typical Gomez performance by any means.  Far away from the stationary goal poacher everyone associates him with, Gomez performed the function of two different players in this match.  His incredible industry often saw him defending in front of Bayern’s sixteen yard box like a traditional destroyer (won an incredible 15 challengs) but he also served as Bayern’s number one goal threat and had two great chances in the 34th and 86th minute.  A remarkably hard working performance from the striker.

Substitutes

Thomas Müller3.5 – Came on late for Ribery and slotted in on the right.  Was very direct in his approach but had to do more defending than attacking with Marcelo constantly pushing up the field.  He did serve as a good foil to Robben though who often used him as a decoy to make runs into the box.

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Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari

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