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 your entire first half. Bayern maintained 72% of possession, beating Real to divided balls and pressing them on the half of the pitch.
But Madrid seemed around the task of stopping Bayern and also 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 to the Munich team. Ironically, Arjen Robben, perhaps their finest offensive weapon, found himself double-teamed whenever 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, is at full gear and on the 19th minute Fabio Coentrao found Ronaldo at about the midfield line. The striker, unable to do his usual sprints received, held then delivered a perfect lead pass to his Portuguese teammate around the left wing. Coentrao's cross found Karim Benzema open on the far post to the easy put away. The resulting score line, Real 1, Bayern 0, was truly contrary to the run of play.
But then a goal inspired Real and at the 25:46 mark another counter saw Ronaldo the recipient of a bouncing cross from Benzema, just in regards to the penalty spot, along with the Portuguese star miss-hit it over the crossbar whenever a simple downward touch could have ensured the other score.
At the 40:29 minute mark di Maria was the recipient of the final spread another nice counter but he sent the ball skyward from very close range along with only Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer to overpower.
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 next half began what each coach could do today to out-fox the other seemed the question to answer, players had already shown they can follow each leader's directions with a tee.
The first chess move was Ancelotti's as they substituted Gareth Bale for Ronaldo to wide applause. Then Guardiola countered earning offensive players for midfielders and taking Frank Ribbery out. The gamble, adding so many attacking players rescued website 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, 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 right to left. But the best keeper within the world, the individual that always reacts so fast even when not called upon all game long, made the save and kept the score line intact for that Real Madrid win.
It might have been too little for Madrid. Bayern is obviously worth two goals in the home. But Ancelotti is relying upon both of his stars being healthy and ready for long play in the other leg in Munich. It should be a sport worthy of a championship final instead of a semifinal.