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, in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Madrid, playing a 4-4-2, which has a clearly not-match-ready Cristiano Ronaldo, and benching the still-recovering-from-the-flu Gareth Bale, were outplayed from 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 up to the task of stopping Bayern along with the middle am well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, along with the Real defense, that the wings seemed the only option for your 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 real 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, is at full gear and with 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 around the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open with the far post for the easy set aside. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly contrary to the run of play.
But then this goal inspired Real and at the 25:46 mark another counter saw Ronaldo the person receiving a bouncing cross from Benzema, just in regards to the penalty spot, along with the Portuguese star miss-hit it over the crossbar whenever a simple downward touch could have ensured the other score.
At the 40:29 minute mark di Maria was the recipient of the final spread 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 show up and carry your day. Real's formation must have been a surprise as was Ronaldo's go out onto the pitch.
As the next half began what each coach could get more info do to out-fox another seemed the question to respond to, the members had already shown they could 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 attracting offensive players for midfielders and taking Frank Ribbery out. The gamble, adding countless attacking players rescued Bayern from an impending Real possession restore. And it also provide Bayern with many 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 contributing to two yards outside of the goalie's box, and took a spot blank shot at goal going to certainly left. But the best keeper inside world, the one that always reacts so quickly even when not contacted all game long, made the save and kept the score line intact to the Real Madrid win.
It may have been too little for Madrid. Bayern is unquestionably worth two goals in your own home. But Ancelotti is relying on both of his stars being healthy and ready for longer play in the 2nd leg in Munich. It should be a casino game worthy of a championship final rather than a semifinal.