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 through the visitors your 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 was so well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, and also the Real defense, how the wings seemed the only option for your Munich team. Ironically, Arjen Robben, perhaps their finest 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 real save from goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Thus went the 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, was at full gear and in the 19th minute Fabio Coentrao found Ronaldo at in regards to the midfield line. The striker, incapable of do his usual sprints received, held and then delivered the perfect lead pass to his Portuguese teammate around the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open in the far post for that easy store. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly 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 regarding the penalty spot, and the Portuguese star miss-hit it over the crossbar whenever a simple downward touch might have ensured the next score.
At the 40:29 minute mark di Maria was the recipient of 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 conquer.
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 show up and carry your day. Real's formation must have been a surprise as was Ronaldo's go out onto the pitch.
As the 2nd half began what each coach could do in order to out-fox one other seemed the question to resolve, the members 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 getting offensive players for midfielders and taking Frank Ribbery out. The gamble, adding a lot of attacking players rescued Bayern from an impending Real possession take 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 inside the box, only to the right of goal and about two yards outside of the goalie's box, and took a spot blank shot at goal going to left. But the best keeper in the world, the one that always reacts so quick even when not called upon all game long, made the save and kept the score line intact to the Real Madrid win.
It could have been too little for Madrid. Bayern is undoubtedly worth two goals in your house. But Ancelotti is counting on both of his stars being healthy and ready for longer play in the 2nd leg in Munich. It should be a game title worthy of a website championship final and never a semifinal.