Kroos, Sane, Vinicius come to the fore in Bayern 2-2 Real Madrid but England star disappoints

Jason Soutar
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid was a superb match
Bayern Munich v Real Madrid was a superb match

German team-mates Toni Kroos and Leroy Sane had their say on the Champions League semi-final first leg between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, while Jude Bellingham lost his individual battle with his England pal Harry Kane.


Two colossal winning machines went massive head to massive head in the more glamorous Champions League semi-final and we got the sort of game that helped us sleep well.

An Arsenal-Manchester City tie would have been intriguing and something we have not seen before in Europe’s elite competition, but we would not have been blessed with such an entertaining 90 minutes, with both sets of players allowed to show their individual quality while bidding to sway the tie in their team’s favour.

Toni Kroos was back at Bayern for the third time since leaving the Bavarians for Real Madrid in 2014, taking on several Germany team-mates, who were not so long ago former team-mates; the iconic midfielder has come out of international retirement to represent his country in this summer’s European Championships, hosted in Germany.

If he can repeat the same orchestration and world-class ability on the ball when he plays in the Allianz Arena for his country at Euro 2024, Julian Nagelsmann will be laughing.

His assist for the opening goal of Madrid’s 2-2 draw in Munich was phenomenal. Inch-perfect for Vinicius Jr, the pass was teasingly close to being in Manuel Neuer’s territory, but if the eccentric Bayern shot-stopper deemed it too dangerous to come and smother, chances are it was in fact too dangerous to come and smother.

Vinicius’ finish was excellent but the goal was all about the Kroos pass.

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Interestingly, instead of taking the game to Bayern, Carlo Ancelotti adopted a similar approach to the one he had taken at Manchester City in the quarter-final. Los Blancos were rather more Diego Simeone than Ancelotti and it looked like the Italian legend wanted to frustrate and hit their hosts on the counter, just like Bayern did at Arsenal in their own 2-2 away draw in the previous round.

Madrid would come out for the second half ahead despite giving up a few chances to Harry Kane and Leroy Sane, who both looked very dangerous in the opening 45 minutes. Their time both came soon enough after Thomas Tuchel gave the Bayern players a kick up the backside at half-time.

Sane was not in the dressing room to hear what his manager had to say due to a pelvic problem that would seize up should he sit down for 15 minutes, but the message would have found its way to him.

The former Manchester City winger’s previous chances came from receiving the ball in a dangerous position but his fantastic equaliser was born of a position where he was left with a lot of work to do.

A sharp run in to the box was completed by a thunderous strike past Andriy Lunin. Goalkeepers should not be getting beat at their front post, as everyone will tell you, but the strike from Sane had a silly amount of power and you can sympathise with the Ukrainian. It was a bloody bullet and was the least Bayern deserved.

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They were playing well before Sane’s goal but the strike appeared to be the shot in the arm Bayern needed to take the lead.

Another superstar on the pitch, Jamal Musiala, won a penalty thanks to a stupid Lucas Vasquez challenge and Kane dispatched the spot-kick. Was it ever in doubt? No. No, it was not.

Kane had made his mark on the tie with the go-ahead goal, while his England team-mate Jude Bellingham struggled to stamp his authority after he struggled in the quarters against Man City. In what has been an outstanding campaign for the 20-year-old, he has been disappointing in the latter stages of the Champions League.

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Bayern could not find a third goal which would have made Real Madrid quiver ahead of the second leg but another penalty gave Vinicius Jr the chance to score his second of the game.

The Brazilian superstar stepped up to confidently score past Neuer thanks to the spot-kick won by his club and country team-mate Rodrygo, who benefitted from some poor defending from Kim Min-jae.

We now have a very, very tasty second leg at the Bernabeu to look forward to. The tie is in the balance and despite Madrid going in to the home leg on the back of a draw, we have more confidence in Bayern’s ability to reach the final against Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund or Tuchel’s former club Paris Saint-Germain.

What is guaranteed is another terrific game of football and some more individual quality that the Champions League is all about.

From Kroos’ pinpoint assist to Sane’s superb equaliser, we were blessed thanks to the biggest stars stepping up. Except for Bellingham, that is. All can be forgotten if he steps up next week, though. It’s your time to shine, son.

More: Real Madrid | Harry Kane | Jude Bellingham