It was all Real Madrid to start the match, and Karim Benzema tested Bayern Munich keeper Manuel Neuer twice early on, but the Bayern keeper kept the striker out in the 5’ and 11’ minute. Almost against the run of play, Bayern made it 1-0 in the 16thminute, Thomas Müller sent David Alaba into the box, and his cross found Corentin Tolisso, who on his second attempt hammered the ball across the goal-line. Although Thiago could have doubled the lead in the 30thminute Real Madrid were the stronger of the two sides in the first half but could not capitalize on their chances.
Head coach Niko Kovac was spotted in deep discussions with assistant Hansi Flick throughout the first half. Whatever the two cooked up led to a significant improvement for Bayern as they were the better side throughout the second interval. Robert Lewandowski finally got Bayern’s second goal after a long ball by Niklas Süle left him open in the box, and the Polish striker easily beat Keylor Navas from with a low shot in the corner. Bayern were now dominant, and Serge Gnabry added a third in the 70thminute. Bayern were cruising to their win, the only slight hiccup was a red card to Sven Ulreich, who challenged striker Rodrygo in a one-v-one, the Brazilian went down quickly, but it was enough for the referee to send the keeper off. The Brazilian then stepped up and hammered home the freekick.
The German national team keeper is quickly regaining his pre-injury form. Out for almost the entire 2017/18 season, Neuer struggled at times last season. He was then excellent in the DFB Pokal final against RB Leipzig and in Germany’s games against Belarus. Tonight, he produced a vintage performance in the first 45 minutes. Neuer kept out Benzema twice early on and then produced two fantastic diving saves to keep out Eden Hazard in the 39thand then Luka Modrić just before halftime.
The Polish striker came on at halftime and helped turn the tide for Bayern. The striker at times had a field day with Real Madrid’s backline that increasingly struggled to keep pace with the Polish forward. As a result, Lewandowski found the room and space to create first Bayern’s second goal but also ensured that his teammates would be allowed to roam in the attacking third as Real’s defenders tried to keep an eye on the 30-year-old striker.
Serge Gnabry among the three stars midweek in Bayern’s 2-1 defeat to Arsenal -- he once again made the cut tonight. The winger was prolific after coming on, and his goal ultimately sealed the deal in Bayern’s favour. Not quite as tricky as Coman or Davies Gnabry defines his game through his athleticism and his directness when going for goal. All of that was on display tonight against Real Madrid.
GOALS: 1-0 (Tolisso 16’), 2-0 (Lewandowski, 67’), 3-0 (Gnabry, 70‘), 3-1 (Rodrygo, 85’)
It was a tale of two halves in Houston. Real Madrid were the more dominant side in the first half, and it was only thanks to Neuer’s efforts that Bayern took the lead into the second half. Then both coaches made changes, and throughout the second interval, it became apparent that Bayern are perhaps a bit further in their preparations in terms of fitness as Real started to run out of steam quickly and was put to the sword by the German giants. Let’s look ahead to see who both play next in the ICC: