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, using a clearly not-match-ready Cristiano Ronaldo, and benching the still-recovering-from-the-flu Gareth Bale, were outplayed with 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 as well as the middle was well defended by Isco, Xabi Alonso, Luka Modric, Angel di Maria, and the Real defense, how the wings seemed the only option for the 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 an actual save from goalkeeper Iker Casillas. Thus went the 1st 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 at the 19th minute Fabio Coentrao found Ronaldo at in regards to the midfield line. The striker, not able to do his usual sprints received, held after which delivered a great lead pass to his Portuguese teammate for the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open in the far post to the easy set aside. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly contrary to the run of play.
But then this goal inspired Real and at the 25:46 mark another counter saw Ronaldo the person receiving a bouncing cross from Benzema, just regarding the penalty spot, and also the Portuguese star miss-hit it on 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 offer another nice counter but he sent the ball skyward from very close range and 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 arrive and carry the morning. Real's formation must have been a surprise as wall ball games to play online was Ronaldo's walk out onto the pitch.
As the second half began what each coach could caused by out-fox the opposite seemed the question to answer, players had already shown they might follow each leader's directions with a tee.
The first chess move was Ancelotti's while 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 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, in order to the right of goal resulting in two yards beyond your goalie's box, and took a point blank shot at goal going to left. But the best keeper inside the world, the one 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 was 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 second leg in Munich. It should be a casino game worthy of a championship final instead of a semifinal.