Sunday, 5 May 2013

Wasteful Real fail to progress against Patient Dortmund:

Real Madrid knew that they would only progress through to the Wembley final in three weeks time if they overturned the comfortable 3-goal deficit that their German opposition Borussia Dortmund had after a 4-1 thrashing at the Signal Iduna Park last week (Lewandowski with all 4 goals).

The first half of the game was Real domination, with Ronaldo, Higuain and Ozil all missing chances to break the deadlock while Lewandowski also had an acrobatic effort parried away by 2nd choice goalkeeper Diego Lopez. 

Failed opportunities: Higuain was among those Real Madrid players who failed to convert his chances.

The second half was also like the first, however the hosts could not finish their chances until "The Special One" manager Jose Mourinho made a key substitution, taking Higuain off and replacing him with French striker Karim Benzema.
This had an instant impact, with Real finding urgency in their play and putting all their players (literally) in the Dortmund half. 

Benzema scored a tap-in at the near post to give the hosts a 1-0 lead in the 82nd minute after a low ball by German playmaker Mesut Ozil on the wing, before Spainsh defender Sergio Ramos made for a dramatic last few minutes with a bullet finish into the roof of the net in the 88th minute.

Impact: Benzema makes Dortmund pay within minutes of replacing Higuain - who could not finish all game

Bullet: Sergio Ramos hits a strike inside the box to double Real's lead to make it 2-0 with minutes to go.

Too little, too late: Captain Ramos celebrates his goal to make it 2-0 and (4-3 on aggregate)

It was an amazing climax to a tense CL semi-final game, but Dortmund held on for a historical win to progress to the Wembley final.

Obviously, Real will feel hard done by and disappointed as they missed out on many chances and left the charge too late to take advantage on a deficit that was too far away just to snatch away from Dortmund's grasp, a team that they knew would do anything to get to the final.

Robert Lewandowski celebrates getting to the CL final alongside fellow Polish team-mate Lukas Piszczek.

Dark horses: Dortmund have been the underdogs to progress throughout despite a very strong squad.

Going back home: Lewandowski uploaded this picture of him and his team-mates on the flight back to Germany.

Meanwhile, in Spain Liga BBVA leaders Barcelona had to overturn an even higher aggregate score of 4-0 against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Having overturned two aggregate scores in the knock-out rounds against PSG and Milan, Barca had the ultimate test if they were going to get to the CL final at Wembley for the 2nd time in 3 years (and second at Wembley after the 3-1 win against Manchester United in 2011)

However, this was not the case at the Nou Camp as Barca failed to take their first-half chances and were clinically punished on the break in the second-half. 
The first was a stunning finish by Dutch winger Arjen Robben in the 48th minute, when left-back David Alaba whipped a ball onto the wing for the Dutchman to calmly latch onto before cutting inside past full-back Adriano and curling the ball past Victor Valdes into the top corner of the net. 

The second was an own goal by Spainsh defender Gerard Pique in the 72nd minute, when French winger Franck Ribery tried to whip a cross into the box, but it fell to Pique who lashed recklessly at the ball and it connected with his knee before beating Valdes into the net to make it 2-0 (and 6-0 on aggregate).

The final blow to Barcelona was made four minutes later by winger Franck Ribery when some great play and pace down the wing got past two Barca defenders before his aerial cross was nodded in at the far post by Thomas Muller to make it 3-0 (and 7-0 on aggregate).

FACT: The last time Barca lost 3-0 at the Nou Camp was in 2002 against Sevilla.  
FACT: Bayern are the first team since Manchester United in 2008 to keep a clean sheet over two legs against Barca

So... we have an all German final between two fierce rivals.

Tale of two German rivals: Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich: Saturday May 25th at 7.45pm