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, at 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 by the visitors the complete first half. Bayern maintained 72% of possession, beating Real to divided balls and pressing them on their half of the pitch.
But Madrid seemed as much as the task of stopping Bayern and the middle was so well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, and the Real defense, the wings seemed the only option for the Munich team. Ironically, Arjen Robben, perhaps their very best offensive weapon, found himself double-teamed 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 true save from goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Thus went the very first 18 minutes.
Then came part a couple of Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti's strategy. The counter, a Madrid specialty since Jose Mourinho's days, what food was in full gear and with the 19th minute Fabio Coentrao found Ronaldo at about the midfield line. The striker, not able to do his usual sprints received, held and after that delivered the perfect lead pass to his Portuguese teammate on the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open at the far post for the easy put away. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly up against the run of play.
But then this goal inspired Real and at bola the 25:46 mark another counter saw Ronaldo the person receiving a bouncing cross from Benzema, just regarding the penalty spot, as well as the Portuguese star miss-hit it over the crossbar each time 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 sufficient reason for 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 arrive and carry the afternoon. Real's formation must have been a surprise as was Ronaldo's walk out onto the pitch.
As the next half began what each coach could do to out-fox the other seemed the question to respond to, the gamers had already shown they could follow each leader's directions to your tee.
The first chess move was Ancelotti's because he substituted Gareth Bale for Ronaldo to wide applause. Then Guardiola countered getting offensive players for midfielders and taking Frank Ribbery out. The gamble, adding countless attacking players rescued Bayern from an impending Real possession get back. And it also provide Bayern with lots 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 resulting in two yards away from 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 fast even when not contacted all game long, made the save and kept the score line intact for your Real Madrid win.
It could have been too little for Madrid. Bayern is obviously 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 casino game worthy of a championship final and not a semifinal.