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, with 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 through 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 around the task of stopping Bayern as well as the middle was well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, and also the Real defense, that the wings seemed the only option for that 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 initial 18 minutes.
Then came part 2 of Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti's strategy. The counter, a Madrid specialty since Jose Mourinho's days, was in full gear and on the 19th minute Fabio Coentrao found Ronaldo at regarding the midfield line. The striker, unable to do his usual sprints received, held then delivered the perfect lead pass to his Portuguese teammate on the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open in the far post for your easy let go of. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly from the run of play.
But then a goal inspired Real and with the 25:46 mark another counter saw Ronaldo the recipient of a bouncing cross from Benzema, just concerning the penalty spot, as well as the Portuguese star miss-hit it in the crossbar when a simple downward touch might have ensured the next score.
At the 40:29 minute mark di Maria was the people 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 get more info coach, Pep Guardiola, had assumed his superior forces would simply appear and carry the afternoon. Real's formation must have been a surprise as was Ronaldo's walk out of onto the pitch.
As the other half began what each coach could do in order to out-fox the opposite seemed the question to answer, the players had already shown they might 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 away from goalie's box, and took a place blank shot at goal going directly to left. But the best keeper inside world, the individual that always reacts so quickly even when not contacted all game long, made the save and kept the score line intact for 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 depending on both of his stars being healthy and ready longer play in the next leg in Munich. It should be a casino game worthy of a championship final instead of a semifinal.