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, having a clearly not-match-ready Cristiano Ronaldo, and benching the still-recovering-from-the-flu Gareth Bale, were outplayed with the visitors the 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 as well as the middle am well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, and also the Real defense, the wings seemed the only option for your Munich team. Ironically, Arjen Robben, perhaps their utmost 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 genuine save from goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Thus went the initial 18 minutes.
Then came part 2 of Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti's strategy. The counter, a Madrid specialty since Jose Mourinho's days, is at full gear and at the 19th minute Fabio Coentrao found Ronaldo at regarding the midfield line. The striker, incapable of do his usual sprints received, held then delivered the perfect lead pass to his Portuguese teammate for the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open in the far post for your easy set aside. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly from the run of play.
But then this goal inspired Real and with the 25:46 mark another counter saw Ronaldo the recipient of a bouncing cross from Benzema, just regarding the penalty spot, and 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 offer another nice counter but he sent the ball skyward from very close range and with read more 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 the day. Real's formation must have been a surprise as was Ronaldo's go 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 players had already shown they can 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 bringing in offensive players for midfielders and taking Frank Ribbery out. The gamble, adding numerous 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 in the box, only to the right of goal and about two yards outside of the goalie's box, and took an area blank shot at goal going directly to left. But the best keeper inside 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 your Real Madrid win.
It might 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 longer play in the other leg in Munich. It should be a game title worthy of a championship final and not a semifinal.