Bayern Munich are halfway to a massive result that could make them slight favorites to advance in the UEFA Champions League semifinals. After a brilliant first 45 minutes of play, they lead Real Madrid 1-0 off of a goal by Franck Ribery.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes made one major adjustment from the team usually considered to be his first choice side, bringing in Toni Kroos from Thomas Müller. While Kroos doesn't have nearly the same nose for goal as the man he's in for, he is a natural midfield player and has been helpful so far in checking the runs of Sami Khedira. He's also passing the ball well, and Bayern's possession is a big part of why Madrid have been light on clear-cut chances.
Even though Madrid have struggled for chances, they did have the first big chance of the day. Mesut Özil slipped a brilliant through ball to Karim Benzema in the 7th minute and he put a decent effort on target, but he hit his shot towards the middle of the goal. Manuel Neuer made a very good save, but it was one that a keeper of his caliber will be expected to make every time.
Just before the Bayern goal, Ribery went down easily in the penalty area and protested for a penalty. Though Sergio Ramos did briefly grab his shirt, he took no action that would have caused Ribery to go down and Howard Webb was correct not to give a penalty. A minute later, Ribery took matters into his own hands and Ramos was mostly at fault for the goal.
On a corner kick, the ball fell to Ramos, who was unable to clear. In his attempt to bring the ball down, he appeared to actively use his arm to play the ball. Had the chance not been finished off, Bayern would have had a legitimate gripe at the lack of a handball call, but the ball fell to Ribery who hit a rocket of a shot past Iker Casillas and into the back of the net to give his side a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute.
Bayern looked extremely confident in the half hour of play following the goal and spent a solid portion of the period keeping the ball in their opposition's half. A 1-0 loss would not be a disaster for Madrid, but Jose Mourinho will not be happy if his side does not have an away goal heading back to Santiago Bernabeu.
We'll have live coverage of the game in our Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid, UEFA Champions League StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works and Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid.