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, with the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Madrid, playing a 4-4-2, having a clearly not-match-ready Cristiano Ronaldo, and benching the still-recovering-from-the-flu Gareth Bale, were outplayed by the visitors the whole first half. Bayern maintained 72% of possession, beating Real to divided balls and pressing them on their half of the pitch.
But Madrid seemed as much as the task of stopping Bayern along with the middle was so well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, as well as the Real defense, that the wings seemed the only option for that Munich team. Ironically, Arjen Robben, perhaps their best 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 very first 18 minutes.
Then came part 2 of Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti's strategy. The counter, a Madrid specialty since Jose Mourinho's days, was in full gear and in the 19th minute Fabio Coentrao found Ronaldo at about the midfield line. The striker, incapable of do his usual sprints received, held and after that delivered a perfect lead pass to his Portuguese teammate about the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open with the far post for the easy store. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly up against the run of play.
But then your goal inspired Real and on the 25:46 mark another counter saw get more info Ronaldo the person receiving a bouncing cross from Benzema, just in regards to the penalty spot, along with the Portuguese star miss-hit it in the crossbar when a simple downward touch could have ensured the other 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 along with only Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer to overpower.
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 appear and carry the day. Real's formation must have been a surprise as was Ronaldo's walk out onto the pitch.
As the second half began what each coach could caused by out-fox another seemed the question to answer, the gamers had already shown they are able to follow each leader's directions to a tee.
The first chess move was Ancelotti's while he substituted Gareth Bale for Ronaldo to wide applause. Then Guardiola countered attracting offensive players for midfielders and taking Frank Ribbery out. The gamble, adding countless attacking players rescued Bayern from an impending Real possession take back. And it also provide Bayern with lots of more scoring opportunities.
At the 83rd minute Bayern's golden chance came. Mario Goetze was open in the box, simply to the right of goal resulting in two yards beyond your goalie's box, and took a place blank shot at goal going to left. But the best keeper inside the world, the individual that always reacts so fast even when not called upon all game long, made the save and kept the score line intact to the Real Madrid win.
It could have been too little for Madrid. Bayern is undoubtedly worth two goals in your house. But Ancelotti is depending on both of his stars being healthy and ready for extended play in the other leg in Munich. It should be a game title worthy of a championship final and never a semifinal.