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Martinez madness does not mask Bayern's decline
April 13, 2017 / 12:11 AM / in 7 months

Martinez madness does not mask Bayern's decline

(Reuters) - Javi Martinez will take much of the blame for Bayern Munich’s 2-1 Champions League quarter-final first leg defeat by Real Madrid on Wednesday after his red card, but it does not hide the hosts’ need for a major overhaul.

Football Soccer - Bayern Munich v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final First Leg - Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany - 12/4/17 Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo gestures to referee Nicola Rizzoli after being fouled by Bayern Munich's Javi Martinez Reuters / Michael Dalder Livepic

After dominating the first half, Arturo Vidal’s missed penalty and a Cristiano Ronaldo equaliser let the visitors back into the match before Martinez’s red gave the Spanish side the initiative.

”Small details have decided the game,“ Bayern manager Carlo Ancelotti said. ”We missed the penalty, conceded at the start of the second half.

“We had the game under control, but there was a lack of efficiency,” he added. “Being a man short made it harder.”

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer experienced the worst of being a man down.

“We didn’t have much of the ball, the security was missing,” said Neuer. “In the end, they could have scored even more.”

While Martinez’s dismissal opened the contest up, it cannot mask the reality that Bayern are past their prime and the veterans of the 2013 Champions League victory ultimately found themselves outthought, outplayed and outran.

At 33 and 34 respectively, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery lack the zip and stamina of their youth, while 35-year-old Xabi Alonso and 33-year-old captain Philipp Lahm are coming towards the end of their Bayern careers.

Without injured top scorer Robert Lewandowski, the German side have also been unable to impose themselves in Europe as they once did.

Pep Guardiola may have sustained Bayern’s domestic dominance during his three-year tenure but for all his modification of their squad and style, he was unable to guide Jupp Heynckes’ European champions back to the final.

Ancelotti has kept faith with Guardiola’s side -- the nucleus of which won the title under Heynckes in 2013 -- but Bayern’s second-half capitulation demonstrates that a wholesale overhaul of the squad is needed if they are to win a sixth European crown.

Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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