In today's Champions League 2014 first leg semifinals, Spanish Football's La Liga hosts Real Madrid defeated German Football's Bundesliga visitors Bayern Munich 1-0, at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Madrid, playing a 4-4-2, with a clearly not-match-ready Cristiano Ronaldo, and benching the still-recovering-from-the-flu Gareth Bale, were outplayed by the visitors the entire first half. Bayern maintained 72% of possession, beating Real to divided balls and pressing them on their own half of the pitch.
But Madrid seemed as much as the task of stopping Bayern and also the middle was well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, as well as the Real defense, that this wings seemed the only option for your Munich team. Ironically, Arjen Robben, perhaps their finest offensive weapon, found himself double-teamed each and every time he became Bayern's wide offensive outlet. Time after time the Madrid defense stopped Bayern--sometimes cold, other tines with last gasp lunges or blocks, but never requiring a true save from goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Thus went the 1st 18 minutes.
Then came part two of Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti's strategy. The counter, a Madrid specialty since Jose Mourinho's days, was at full gear and on the 19th minute Fabio Coentrao found Ronaldo at in regards to the midfield line. The striker, unable to do his usual sprints received, held and then delivered an ideal lead pass to his Portuguese teammate on the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open with the far post for your easy put away. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly contrary to the run of play.
But then this goal inspired Real and in the 25:46 mark another counter saw Ronaldo the person receiving a bouncing cross from Benzema, just regarding the penalty spot, along with the Portuguese star miss-hit it within the crossbar whenever a simple downward touch would have ensured the next score.
At the 40:29 minute mark di Maria was the recipient of the final pass on another nice counter but he sent the ball skyward from very close range sufficient reason for only Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer to conquer.
It was clear by half-time that Ancelotti had played all his pieces well while Bayern coach, Pep Guardiola, had assumed his superior forces would simply make an appearance and carry your day. Real's formation must have been a surprise as was Ronaldo's go out onto the pitch.
As the 2nd half began what each coach could do today to out-fox the opposite seemed the question to reply to, the gamers had already shown they might follow each leader's directions to some tee.
The first chess move was Ancelotti's because website he substituted Gareth Bale for Ronaldo to wide applause. Then Guardiola countered getting offensive players for midfielders and taking Frank Ribbery out. The gamble, adding a lot of attacking players rescued Bayern from an impending Real possession take back. And it also provide Bayern with a lot of more scoring opportunities.
At the 83rd minute Bayern's golden chance came. Mario Goetze was open inside box, in order to the right of goal contributing to two yards away from goalie's box, and took a point blank shot at goal going right to left. But the best keeper within the world, the one who always reacts so quick even when not called upon all game long, made the save and kept the score line intact for the Real Madrid win.
It may have been too little for Madrid. Bayern is undoubtedly worth two goals in the home. But Ancelotti is depending on both of his stars being healthy and ready longer play in the other leg in Munich. It should be a sport worthy of a championship final instead of a semifinal.