Bayern March on Munich to CL Final and Home Advantage


Allianz Arena in Munich, Bavaria

by Madi Williamson

A dramatic night at the Santiago Bernabeu ends with broken hearts for the Real Madrid fans as Bayern Munich progress through in a nail-biting penalty shootout and past the final obstacle on the road to the final in their home town.

From the starting whistle, the pace of the match paralleled the loud cheering from the fans. Fueled by their echoing screams, Real Madrid were the first ones to bust up Bayern Munich’s young defense. Within the opening five minutes, they had won a penalty kick.

Young Austrian defender David Alaba was harshly punished for his hand ball inside the area. Although the ball did come in contact with his hand, there was little Alaba would have been able to do about it. Shockingly, the ref also showed him a yellow card, ruling him out of the final on May 19th.

Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up to take the kick, hoping not to imitate Lionel Messi and strike the post rather than the back of the net. The Portuguese winger send Neuer the wrong way and scored a vital goal for Madrid, putting them level and erasing the goal deficit they faced going into the fixture.

Alaba tried to compensate for his mistake, sending a beautiful cross into the Madrid box when Bayern Munich caught the home side pressed too high. Despite being wide open, Robben mistimed his jump to reach the volley and sent the ball over the bar. Alaba continued to shine down the wing and in back for the German side and his presence will surely be missed in the final.

Gomez got another shot in for the visitors, sending a powerful shot on the ground and into the hands of Casillas. The goalkeeper had trouble collecting the ball, but lucky for him, Franck Ribery had a terrible miss on the follow up shot, slamming it into the boards behind the goal rather than into the back of the net.

Just minutes after he finished the vital penalty kick to put Madrid level on aggregate, Cristiano Ronaldo proved he didn’t need set pieces to find the back of the net. Ronaldo caught Lahm sleeping in back and was able to sneak through the Bayern backline. He calmly collected the ball and slotted it around Neuer’s outstretched arms.

Real Madrid were now in the more favorable position, up 3-2 on aggregate. Bayern Munich continued to press their goal and the pace of the game remained quick and smooth with great passes from both sides.

A goal from the visitors was inevitable, but Pepe didn’t do Real Madrid any favors when he conceded a penalty in the 23rd minute. The Portuguese defender got caught by Gomez and his slightly clumsy challenge brought the imposing German striker to the ground. The referee didn’t hesitate to point to the penalty spot, gifting Bayern Munich the chance to go level.

Ajren Robben was the man to step up to take the kick. He sent it into the back of the net with his left foot, but Casillas managed to get fingertips to the ball, the pace of the shot the only thing sending it into the goal rather than dropping to the ground in front of the line.

Munich were now level and with 25 minutes gone the scoreline was 2-1 on the night in favor of Madrid and level 3-3 on aggregate, each side with two home goals and one away. The pace of the game didn’t slow down and both sides continued to press for the remainder of the first 45.

Despite extremely close shots from both sides and some fantastic saves by the keepers, the scoreline remained the same for the rest of the half. Bayern Munich needed just one more goal to put Madrid in a nearly impossible situation to climb out of, and the home side was desperate to defend an away goal for the Germans in addition to trying to put themselves ahead once again. By the closing whistle in one of the most exciting first halves this season, it was still anyone’s game.

Bayern were out to score, Gomez nearly heading the ball right into the back of the net in the 47th minute but Real Madrid countered. Their play was broken up by Alaba and the Bayern attack, who showed no intentions of taking the pace down a notch after the intense first half.

By the 55th minute the pace had slowed down. The teams were still attacking but not with the blind speed that they were in the first half. Bayern Munich tried to be methodical with their attacks, passing the ball back often and waiting to look for gaps in the Real Madrid defense. When Real Madrid came into possession of the ball, they mirrored the style of play with the chants of the home fans behind them.

Arbeloa saw yellow in the 58th minute with a late tactical foul on Ribery after the Frenchman nearly got a breakaway. Bayern Munich continued to press and attempt to keep the pressure off of their defense but Real Madrid held strong, trying to take advantage of breakaways on the counter attack.

The remainder of the second half was up in the air, much like the closing minutes of the first. Bayern Munich were dominant in terms of possession, but Real Madrid boasted some fantastic on-target attempts that forced some heroics from Neuer and the Bayern backline.

As the remainder of regulation time began to wane and the fatigue set in, added time looked like it was inevitable. Both managers began strategizing for the extra thirty minutes as well as the very real possibility of a penalty shootout.  In the last minute of play Ronaldo had a free kick in a promising position, but he was unable to convert and the ref blew his whistle, signaling for a break before embarking on thirty minutes of extra time.

Marcelo nearly kicked off the opening minutes of extra time with a breakthrough for Real Madrid but the Bayern defense coped with it. The fatigue from the fast pace of the previous 90 minutes was starting to show and the two sides began resorting to playing the ball long and making tactical fouls to break up attacks.

Real Madrid came forward with a burst of speed in the 98th minute, getting the ball to the feet of Ronaldo but he was caught wrong footed and Lahm was able to swoop in and take the ball. Real Madrid tried to press again but Bayern broke up the play and settled into a passing rhythm to try and break through the Spanish defense.

Gustavo saw yellow and became the second Bayern player to face missing the final. His side were given a chance to score with a corner kick, but Sergio Ramos and Khadira were able to break up the first and second attempts at goal. As halftime for added time approached, several players went down with cramps and Hoger Badstuber saw yellow for his tackle on Benzema, ruling him out of the Champions League final.

Higuain came on for Real Madrid in the second half of extra time to add some fresh legs to the worn out Madrid squad. The pace of the match remained slow as the players physically and mentally began to prepare themselves for the possibility of a penalty shootout.

Much of the play remained in the midfield as the two sides tried to possess, not willing to risk conceding for creativity and the possibility of a goal. Real Madrid had some of the better chances, making their last substitution and putting on Granero for Ozil to see if the fresh legs could make the difference.

Kaka had one of the best chances of the second half when the ball fell to his feet while he was under little pressure. Rather than sending the ball right back into the danger area where Ronaldo and Granero were lurking behind a scattered defense, he held the ball for too long and was stripped by the Bayern Munich defense.

Bayern Munich’s few attacks were easily broken up by the Madrid defense, the high line of pressure exciting the home fans. Granero found himself wide open in the box, the only pressure coming from the goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Upon contact, Granero went to ground quite easily. The reaction from the home fans would make any observer with a poor view believe that Neuer had two-footed the striker, but the referee made the correct call, booking the substitute for a dive.

In the wake of a fantastic run from Marcelo, Higuain was caught offside as Marcelo tried to thread the ball through to the feet of an onside Ronaldo. The whistle sounded and Real Madrid were denied a chance to take the win.

The penalty shootout loomed as the final whistle sounded. Both teams worked out muscle cramps and general fatigue as they prepared for the stressful process ahead.

Casillas was the first keeper to step between the posts. David Alaba bravely and confidently stepped forward to take a beautiful kick and put Bayern up 1-0.

Ronaldo stepped to the spot, confident in his finishing ability. The Portuguese winger was denied by Neuer.

Gomez stepped forward to take his kick and to the dismay of the Real Madrid fans, his kick hit the back of the net as Casillas went the wrong way.

Ricardo Kaka was up next, forcing an identical save from Neuer. The keeper did well to stop the kick.

Mourinho disappeared fast down the tunnel / Photo: Ali Gilmore

Toni Kroos confidently stepped forward, if he made it, the job would be done for Madrid. The German midfielder approached the ball weakly in the end, tapping it right into the path of Casillas.

Xabi Alonso scored the first goal of the shootout, using his years of Champions League experience to calmly put the shot past Neuer.

Lahm had a chance to make the distance between Madrid and a the Germans all the bigger but his shot straight up the middle met the strong arm of Casillas, bouncing away from the opening of the goal.

Jose Mourinho was on his knees as Sergio Ramos stepped up to take his kick, sending it so far over the bar players, fans and officials alike were in a state of disbelief.

With Ramos’s miss, Bastian Schweinsteiger carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. If his kick went in, Bayern were bound for the final. Without hesitation, the German center midfielder slammed the ball up the middle of the goal and into the back of the net.

The elated German side celebrated as Jose Mourinho retreated down the tunnel. After 120 minutes of action and a penalty shootout, Bayern Munich were the victors and will face off against Chelsea in the final in their home stadium on May 19th.


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