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Apr 2012
11:19 Comments (31)
Bayern are paired with Chelsea, by Rafa Benitez

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Rafa Benítez

If Chelsea had beaten all the odds the day before by getting to the final in Munich on May 19, last night we witnessed a similar feat by Bayern, although maybe forecasts weren’t quite as clear after the first leg. Barcelona and Real Madrid have crashed out and the Munich and London teams will contest the title. Once again football showed what it can do and brought us all back to reality instead of trying to bet on the outcome.

Real Madrid 2 - Bayern Munich 1. (1-3 on penalties)

The second semi-final of the UEFA Champions League began with few surprises as far as the line-ups and tactics were concerned. Both teams went with their expected starting eleven and a 1-4-2-3-1 system. And they had the same plan, drop off out of possession and counter attack quickly after regaining.

Real Madrid, as they had done in the first leg, were relying on long diagonal or square balls to looking to get behind the Munich defence. And they tried to do it using Xabi Alonso, but also Pepe and even Sergio Ramos. Generally, though, it was not effective, but it showed the intentions of what the Madrid side were trying to do in this second leg.

Before getting in to the more tactical analysis, I am going to comment on something that, to me, was odd and is to do with consistency. After 3 minutes, Ozil claimed a foul against Luiz Gustavo, the referee played the advantage and the Brazilian, who thought the whistle had gone, picked the ball up. However, we then saw David Alaba, who had the ball whacked at his arm with no intention of handling it, receive a yellow card and a penalty was awarded. Just a thought and a debatable detail.

The match began with a shot from Khedira which was saved by Neuer. Then there was an attack followed by a cross by Marcelo which Di Maria struck well. The ball, as we said, hit the arm of Alaba and the referee gave a penalty and booked him. The penalty was put away by Cristiano Ronaldo for the opening goal of the game and also put Real Madrid in the driving seat, forcing Bayern Munich to score if they were to go through.

After the restart, the Madrid team pressed with some intensity. Ozil was moving intelligently in attack, looking to get behind the centre backs as they came out to press Benzema and it looked as though the team in white were going to gain control. However, the left back Alaba got forward, almost to the by-line and his cross created an excellent chance for Robben who missed as the ball bounced awkwardly making it difficult to finish.

Bayern continued to play without fear and on 11 minutes, Ribery got through as Mario Gomez shot and the rebound was almost seized on by Ribery to score, but a defender got there first.

Just a couple of minutes later, Alaba got behind the defence but his cross was poor. The same move was repeated to create another chance, as Arbeloa, worried about the French player’s threat, followed Ribery, leaving his right back zone.

Minute 13’45. Khedira lost control of the ball and the rebound went straight to Ozil who passed quickly to Ronaldo between Lahm and Boateng and the Portuguese made it 2-0. Everything looked good for Real Madrid who dropped off waiting for Bayern in their own half to try to counter attack when they regained the ball or to play long behind the defence if there was a runner.

Bayern were looking to play to Robben, a left footer on the right, and Marcelo was showing him on to his right, supported by Khedira so Robben could not come inside.

The Bavarian team continued to be a threat with a counter attack by Ribery on 19 minutes and a shot by Mario Gomez thanks to an attack by Alaba which made Pepe appear indecisive and gave the German club’s striker time to shoot. Meanwhile, Arbeloa was following Ribery as we said. A minute later, there was another shot from Luiz Gustavo, in space in the centre as the Madrid midfield supported their full backs.

As we had seen in the other semi-final, possession isn’t everything but after 25 minutes it was 39% for the home team and 61% for the visitors.

In the same minute, Ronaldo whipped in a cross and Neuer left the ball, dangerous. But in the counter attack from this move Mario Gomez opened up Toni Kroos who crossed for Pepe to give away a penalty for a foul on the Spanish-German. A yellow card for the Portuguese and the kick put away by Robben to make it 2-1. This evened up the tie.

After 29 minutes, we saw another Real Madrid characteristic. A quick free kick for Ronaldo to shoot and it was almost touched on by Pepe. A minute later, after another long switch of play, Benzema received the ball to come inside and shoot across the goal dangerously with his right foot.

More chances came and on 33 minutes Kroos found Gomez again but his shot was in to Casillas’s body. A minute later, a defender knocked the ball away from Ribery just as he was about to shoot.

Up to half time we saw a couple of long attempts from the home team, from Pepe and Sergio Ramos, a throw behind the slightly lackadaisical Madrid defence, and Ribery moving over to the right to try to gain superiority and work one-twos with Robben, Kroos or Gomez on that side, as we saw in the last dangerous shot from Robben just before the break.

Second Half

The second half began with a cross from Benzema that no-one could finish. But immediately after, that position of Ribery next to Robben created superiority on the right and Lahm crossed for Gomez to head dangerously.

Bayern were controlling the game patiently, playing with their goalkeeper if necessary, to maintain possession and not risk passes in defence.

In the 55th minute, a quick free kick by Real Madrid ended up with Benzema shooting across goal. Arbeloa got a yellow card 4 minutes later as he stopped a counter attack by Ribery. The game progressed in a similar vein, the Madrid side dropped off ready to counter and the Germans moving the ball patiently and quickly.

There were a couple of free kicks by Kroos and Ronaldo but they didn’t trouble the goals and some counter attacks also without too much threat.

Mourinho looked to bring on fresh legs with Kaka coming on in the 74th minute and Ozil moved to the right.

After 77 minutes Benzema beat Badstuber wide and his cross was blocked by Boateng.

The Munich side kept playing their game and Gomez (85th minute), turned and shot, and the Germans shouted for a penalty. A minute later, Alaba got behind the defence, combined with Robben who, with his pass, found Gomez free but he didn’t shoot first time and that allowed defenders to get back and block the chance. Arbeloa was still close to Ribery, Ozil did not come back with Alaba and Pepe arriving late cleared the danger. And so came extra time.

It started as the match had done, with Real Madrid pressing and BM unflustered. Heynckes brought on Muller for Ribery, moving Robben to the left although a bit later he moved back to the right.

Kroos and Schweinsteiger were moving the ball and Luiz Gustavo was still working hard to regain possession in midfield, although in the 101st minute he was booked for another foul, one of many, this time on Pepe. The Brazilian will miss the final, as will Badstuber who also got a yellow card to hand him a suspension.

In the second part of extra time Higuain came on for Benzema and a bit later Granero was on for Ozil, but apart from Granero getting a yellow card for diving, there was not much of note. A dangerous move by Kaka but both teams careful not to allow the other to counter attack.

Maybe worth a mention was a dangerous move by Gomez which Marcelo stopped and came out dribbling past 3 players and passing to Kaka who was offside.

Boateng went to ground with cramp and the referee decided to blow for time and the game went to penalties to decide who would go through.

Bayern go through

And here lady luck smiled on the Germans. David Alaba opened their account (1-0), an impressive performance from the young player throughout the game, Cristiano Ronaldo missed with Neuer saving before Mario Gomez put his side 2-0 in front as the German goalkeeper again stopped Kaka’s kick. Just as everything favoured the visitors, Casillas stopped Toni Kroos’s effort and Xabi Alonso closed the gap (2-1). Lahm also found Casillas hand and Real Madrid had the chance to pull level. But Sergio Ramos put the ball over the bar and Schweinsteiger made sure, sealing their ticket to the final in front of their fans at their own stadium. Madrid disappointment and euphoria and celebrations for Bayern’s fans. Congratulations.

Just another thought. Spain have no representative in the final on the 19th when all the betting was on a Real Madrid – Barcelona final. Such is football.

31 Comments Send us your opinions
26/04/12 at 12:47:47 #1
Michael S
"However, we then saw David Alaba, who had the ball whacked at his arm with no intention of handling it, receive a yellow card and a penalty was awarded. Just a thought and a debatable detail."

This is exactly what I thought. It might be up to the ref, but in this situation - knowing that a booking will result in Alaba missing the final - he could have just given the penalty and nobody would have complained. Apart from that, great performance by the Hungarian referees, wasn't always an easy game.
26/04/12 at 13:07:19 #2
Hopefully bayern would win with their home support and quality football.chelsea is missing half of their defensive players..as the bayern manager said UEFA can give a thought about second yellow cards on semi finals and allow the best 11 to start the final..
on a different note , are you coming back to liverpool as a DOF or manager this summer?.i want this club to play in the semis and finals of the best european club competition ..champions league isnt the same without liverpool
26/04/12 at 13:09:08 #3
Hi Rafa,
Do you agree that Real Madrid players were very tired last night ?! that was clear in the 2nd half, with all those stars and big names do they lack depth in the squad ?! Remember the fact Mourinho started with the same 11 in the last 3 matches within a space of a week! 


Hello, rotation maybe is the magic word. Thanks.
26/04/12 at 13:10:03 #4
Conrad Lodziak
Totally agree - we watched the same game. Bayern are more of a team - they were cohesive and from time to time changed tempo between being patient and steady on the one hand and one-touch on the other. Real have the better players but a poor coach, who is unable to make the best of the talent at his disposal. Bayern might get the reward they surely deserved against Inter a couple of years ago. Inter were relatively poor but won it thanks to a brilliant striker.
26/04/12 at 13:37:27 #5
Constantinos Mina
Dear Sir,
Being a coach in the amateur leage in Cyprus who is asking for advice from a coach of such magnitude makes me a little bit uncofortable. Nevertheless, I am kindly requesting your opinion regarding an issue that was evident in the second leg of the Real - Bayern tie: Wingers overloading the opposite side is a very efficient way of initiating attacks in the final third. What would be the appropriate remedy for defending this? Is the "Bielsa approach", man to man after the initial positions are taken, the appropriate? Wouldn't be a little strange for the right back to follow the left winger all the way accross to the other side in order to establish balance in numbers? Leaving an opponent roaming without attention is risky as we have seen last night. Would it be more appropriate to approach this tactic of the opponent in the overall strategy of your team and not to isolate the solution to the winger-back "elements"? How could you apply this approach?
With respect


Hello, if you normally do zonal marking, you have to do the same. Just to stay closer everyone and to tell your players they will change so they have to be aware. Your team has to move as a unit, narrow and compact. Thanks.
26/04/12 at 13:55:31 #6
Post el classico surely a factor in why madrid werent in top form same for barca!

First time jose excuse probably right...

Messi had food poisoning few days before

Rafa pointing out that werent passing as quick as usual

Who will bayern miss most do you think? Gustav?

We know chelsea without JT and cahill ivanovic will suffer
26/04/12 at 13:59:06 #7
Hi Rafa,

I have two questions.

1. Are you also my opinion that Bayern was the much better team?

2. Which team is your favorite for the CL-final?


Hello Chris, Bayern was better for me too.
I'm not sure who can win, both are good teams with good players. Sorry.
26/04/12 at 14:32:20 #8
Barry (Ireland)
Hi Rafa, I'm loving the blogs, thanks! I have a question away from this game.
In an interview this week I read Dani Alves speaking of how full backs are often viewed in Europe. He was making the point that attacking full backs are often (mistakenly) positioned on the wing, with the expectation that they will be an even greater threat, but that often this turns out to lessen their impact as they have less space to run into. I think his point was that attacking full backs are generally not trusted in Europe as they would be in South America, one example was Gareth Bale.

As I know Alves is a player you know well, I wondered what your thoughts were on what he said, and what position you believe an attacking full-back should occupy to be fully effective?



Hello Barry, we were thinking about Dani Alves as a winger because he is very offensive, but I had the same doubth, so he is right, they lose something if they start too high. Thanks.
26/04/12 at 14:57:55 #9
The results of the two semi-finals shows the beauty of football and it's given nature of the game. The second leg games had the ideal start but not the right ending for the home teams. Rafa both Spanish teams came into the second leg at a disadvantage (games lost) but had the home crowd. Don't you feel this makes it a little difficult for the players mentally...."we are at home we should win"? 


Hello, you have to work with them during the week to manage the anxiety, that is the key. Thanks
26/04/12 at 15:22:42 #10
Mr X
I've seen too little of German football I must acknowledge after watching this good Bayern team. Impressive bunch of players. Everyone calm with the ball and judging their options before making a choice, both with and without the ball, and very often the good choice were made. So balanced and well playing throughout the game it was a joy to watch them. Perhaps Real was tired, just as Barca looked against Chelsea, but this was a high quality game, in my opinion. Based on this Bayern must be favourites in the final.
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