Bayern Munich took on Real Madrid at home, in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal matchup on Wednesday.
Both teams are among the elite on the European continent and beyond. Neither of them has been used to elimination from the competition before at least the semifinal round in recent years.
Real Madrid is the current titleholder of the Champions League, having won it twice in the last three seasons alone.
Their Bavarian opponents last lifted the top continental trophy in 2013, and reached at least the semifinals in each of the five seasons prior to this one.
On paper, this matchup had all the makings of a clash of the giants, with a place in the semifinals that was at stake almost seeming too small a price in the contest between them.
Early in the game, there was little to separate the teams. The home side had a few corner kicks that came to nothing.
All of that changed in the 25th minute, when such a set piece from Thiago reached the head of Arturo Vidal and the Chilean international hammered it into the middle of the goal from close range to give Bayern Munich the 1-0 lead.
While the visitors then came into the match better and better, it was the Bavarians who had the last chance before halftime, as the referee wrongly adjudged Real’s Daniel Carvajal to have handled the ball inside his penalty area.
Vidal stepped up to take the penalty, but crushed it over the bar, it stayed 1-0 at the break.
Madrid came out of the locker room full of intent and scored the equalizer, as Carvajal’s cross found Cristiano Ronaldo, who pushed it into the bottom corner of the goal with his elegant right-footed touch.
Shortly after that, Bayern center back Javi Martinez was sent off for two bookings within minutes from each other.
From then on, the visitors completely dominated the match and Bayern was lucky only to concede once more, as Ronaldo’s right boot literally stabbed the ball in, between Manuel Neuer’s legs in minute 77.
Thus, the game finished 2-1 and despite having been slightly unlucky with that second goal, Bayern’s keeper is the reason why they still have an outside chance to advance.
It will be very difficult to overturn a 2-1 home loss in Madrid next Tuesday. But one would have to be foolish to completely count out Bayern Munich, especially with their injured star striker Robert Lewandowski likely returning by then.