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, with a clearly not-match-ready Cristiano Ronaldo, and benching the still-recovering-from-the-flu Gareth Bale, were outplayed through the visitors the complete first half. Bayern maintained 72% of possession, beating Real to divided balls and pressing them on his or her half of the pitch.
But Madrid seemed around the task of stopping Bayern and the middle was so well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, along with the Real defense, the wings seemed the only option to the Munich team. Ironically, Arjen Robben, perhaps their utmost offensive weapon, found himself double-teamed whenever 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 initial 18 minutes.
Then came part two of Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti's strategy. The counter, a Madrid specialty since Jose Mourinho's days, was in full gear and at the 19th minute Fabio Coentrao found Ronaldo at regarding the midfield line. The striker, unable to do his usual sprints received, held after which delivered a perfect lead pass to his Portuguese teammate around the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open in 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 your goal inspired Real and at the 25:46 mark another counter saw Ronaldo the people receiving a bouncing cross from Benzema, just in regards to the penalty spot, and the Portuguese star miss-hit it within the crossbar when a simple downward touch would've ensured the second score.
At the 40:29 minute mark di Maria was the people receiving the final spread another nice counter but he sent the ball skyward from very close range and 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 morning. Real's formation must have check here been a surprise as was Ronaldo's go out onto the pitch.
As the other half began what each coach could do in order to out-fox the other seemed the question to respond to, players had already shown they are able to follow each leader's directions to some tee.
The first chess move was Ancelotti's as 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 so many attacking players rescued Bayern from an impending Real possession get back. And it also provide Bayern with many different more scoring opportunities.
At the 83rd minute Bayern's golden chance came. Mario Goetze was open inside box, just to the right of goal leading to two yards beyond your goalie's box, and took a point blank shot at goal going to left. But the best keeper in the world, the individual that always reacts so quickly even when not called upon all game long, made the save and kept the score line intact for that Real Madrid win.
It could have been too little for Madrid. Bayern is unquestionably worth two goals at home. But Ancelotti is relying upon 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 and not a semifinal.