It was all going wrong till Vinicius showed up
There had been an hour of play and the game was tight when Reguilón put a long pass to Vinicius, down his side. The Brazilian then unravelled the Ajax defence and fed Benzema, who finished the move, hard and high. Unstoppable. That was the moment when Madrid's problems ended. Till then, with Bale on the right instead of Lucas, a seemingly confused Casemiro, and against a mature and bouyant Ajax, they had given a much lower performance than those of late. A little confidence, maybe; another slight lift from Ajax on the level of recent games; and a small bit of 'why Bale instead of Lucas Vázquez?'. What was that about?
The goal that changed everything
The truth is that Madrid faired badly in the first half, making it to the break unscathed thanks to VAR, introduced for the first time into the Champions League this week, and disallowing an Ajax goal. Why? Because Tadic impeded Courtois in the build-up. It's a grey area that sided with Madrid on this occasion. That goal/no-goal moment marked perhaps the time of most discomfort for Madrid, who struggled to cope with the pace of Ajax. From there on, though, they got to half-time without any scares, Ajax took a breather, and the Reguilón-Vinicius-Benzema combination, which led to the opening goal, changed the course of the match, one that would be won by Madrid.
Impact role for Bale
Coinciding with that goal, was the substition of Bale, whose appearance in the starting XI at the expense of Lucas Vázquez was far from convincing. Bale can still have an important role to play in this team, coming on late and using his strength and pace to take advantage of fatigue and imbalances in the opposition. The team is not just the eleven posing in the initial photo, but made up of 16 or 18 players, and perhaps the best role for Bale is as a second-half impact substitute, as he's proven recently. In regards to others, I continue to enjoy seeing Reguilón play in the area that Marcelo has neglected a lot.