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, having a clearly not-match-ready Cristiano Ronaldo, and benching the still-recovering-from-the-flu Gareth Bale, were outplayed from the visitors your entire first half. Bayern maintained 72% of possession, beating Real to divided balls and pressing them on their half of the pitch.
But Madrid seemed around the task of stopping Bayern along with the middle am well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, and also the Real defense, that this wings seemed the only option for the Munich team. Ironically, Arjen Robben, perhaps their finest offensive weapon, found himself double-teamed 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 genuine save from goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Thus went the 1st 18 minutes.
Then came part 2 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 about the midfield line. The striker, can not do his usual sprints received, held and after that delivered a perfect lead pass to his Portuguese teammate for the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open with the far post for that easy let go of. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly against the run of play.
But then the goal inspired Real and with the 25:46 mark another counter saw Ronaldo the person receiving a bouncing cross from Benzema, just regarding the penalty spot, as well as the Portuguese star miss-hit it on 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 give another nice counter but he sent the ball skyward from very close range with only Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer to overpower.
It was clear get more info by half-time that Ancelotti had played all his pieces well while Bayern coach, Pep Guardiola, had assumed his superior forces would simply arrive and carry the day. Real's formation must have been a surprise as was Ronaldo's walk out onto the pitch.
As the next half began what each coach could do to out-fox another seemed the question to answer, the players had already shown they can follow each leader's directions to some tee.
The first chess move was Ancelotti's while he substituted Gareth Bale for Ronaldo to wide applause. Then Guardiola countered earning offensive players for midfielders and taking Frank Ribbery out. The gamble, adding so many 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 the box, in order to the right of goal resulting in two yards away from goalie's box, and took a spot blank shot at goal going to left. But the best keeper inside 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 that Real Madrid win.
It may have been too little for Madrid. Bayern is unquestionably worth two goals in the home. But Ancelotti is depending on both of his stars being healthy and ready for long play in the other leg in Munich. It should be a casino game worthy of a championship final and not a semifinal.