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, on the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Madrid, playing a 4-4-2, using 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 own half of the pitch.
But Madrid seemed around the task of stopping Bayern and also the middle am well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, as well as the Real defense, the wings seemed the only option for your Munich team. Ironically, Arjen Robben, perhaps their very best offensive weapon, found himself double-teamed each 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 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, what food was in full gear and on the 19th minute Fabio Coentrao found Ronaldo at about the midfield line. The striker, incapable of do his usual sprints received, held and then delivered the perfect lead pass to his Portuguese teammate about the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open at the far post for your easy put away. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly up against the run of play.
But then the goal inspired Real and in the 25:46 mark another counter saw Ronaldo the people receiving a bouncing cross from Benzema, just about the penalty spot, and the Portuguese star miss-hit it within more info the crossbar every time a simple downward touch would've ensured the other score.
At the 40:29 minute mark di Maria was the person receiving 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 get over.
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 walk out onto the pitch.
As the second half began what each coach could caused by out-fox the other seemed the question to respond to, the gamers had already shown they can follow each leader's directions to some tee.
The first chess move was Ancelotti's because 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 a lot of more scoring opportunities.
At the 83rd minute Bayern's golden chance came. Mario Goetze was open within the box, in order to the right of goal contributing to two yards beyond your goalie's box, and took an area blank shot at goal going right to left. But the best keeper in the world, the one that always reacts so fast even when not called upon all game long, made the save and kept the score line intact for your Real Madrid win.
It may have been too little for Madrid. Bayern is certainly worth two goals at home. But Ancelotti is depending on both of his stars being healthy and ready for longer play in the other leg in Munich. It should be a game title worthy of a championship final instead of a semifinal.