When the Champions League semi-finals were drawn, many people began envisioning an exciting “El Clasico” for the Wembley final, thinking Barcelona would end up squaring off against Real Madrid. Instead, the German teams prevailed, although they took very different routes to do it.
Real Madrid hosted Borussia Dortmund knowing they would need a 3-0 win to advance. While on the one hand it seemed like an impossible task, the other hand reminds us how many good teams that Madrid has bested at the Santiago Bernabeu before. Madrid came out attacking from the word “go,” knowing that an early goal was imperative. While Dortmund might not have shown the attacking flair of the first leg, they showed disciplined defending and could have put themselves up 5-1 on aggregate after a few chances. Madrid really should have put away a couple of chances early on, but Dortmund’s resolve showed why they are a team that is now in the final. The game was all-Madrid at the end, with goals coming in the 82nd and 88th minute. With five minutes added on and Madrid firing on all cylinders, it seemed like the Spanish side were going to be able to do to Dortmund what Dortmund themselves had done to Malaga in the previous round. Instead, though, the Germans held on and booked their place at Wembley. Real Mardid 2-0 Dortmund, 3-4 to Dortmund on aggregate.
Barcelona chose to leave Lionel Messi on the substitutes bench (and never brought him on) for their second leg with Bayern Munich in a game that reminded everyone who watched it how important the Argentine is to the Catalan side. Barcelona were lackluster and had little creativity going forward. In typical Barcelona fashion, they held the ball well and completed 557 passes (compared to Bayern Munich’s 430 total passes). Their inability to do anything with that, though, cost them yet again. Bayern Munich was out to make a statement in this game and, though they didn’t see the ball nearly as much as Barcelona, they came out to win. Arjen Robben and Thomas Mueller both had goals in the second half, sandwiching an unfortunate own goal by Gerard Pique, in what was an emphatic ending to a two-legged tie that the German side completely dominated a team that has been considered by many people to be the best team in the world these past few years. Barcelona 0-3 Bayern Munich, 0-7 to Munich on aggregate.
- Mat Hummels put in a great defensive shift for Borussia Dortmund. True, they conceded two goals all the same, but if it weren’t for some important blocks and tackles by him then Real Madrid could easily have been through. He was a strength in the back. Hummels doesn’t always get the recognition he deserves, but this game highlighted how important he is to Dortmund.
- Thomas Mueller put in another good shift for Bayern Munich. He scored a goal and was generally a nuisance to Barcelona. He ran and ran, getting in position to receive passes and distribute the ball again. He has shown great composure over the course of this season and is elevating himself to what many people would consider “world class” status.
- Sergio Ramos was the captain for Real Madrid on Tuesday’s win over Dortmund and played one of the best games he has had in some time. He scored the goal that made it 2-0 to Madrid and had a few other chances that could have had the score be 3-0. He completed 64 of his 79 passes and was lively with the ball. He was the start of many of their attacks and could have pushed the result the other way on another night.
- The Champions League final will take place on May 25th at Wembley Stadium in London, England. This will be the first all-German final in the Champions League era of European competition. Borussia Dortmund will be considered the home team.
- Mario Gotze, who will be moving from Dortmund to Bayern Munich in the summer, came off injured after just fourteen minutes in their loss to Real Madrid. The injury is reported to be a torn muscle in his thigh. The club doctors remain optimistic that he will be able to make it back for the final, but admit it is a race against time for the German international.
- This will be Bayern Munich’s 10th appearance in the Champions League final. They have won 4 and lost 5, with their most recent appearance being last year’s penalty shoot-out loss to Chelsea. Borussia Dortmund will be making their 2nd trip to the final, with their only previous visit being a 3-1 win over Juventus in 1997.
- Gerard Pique will be suspended for Barcelona’s next game in European competition, which will most likely be the group stages of next year’s Champions League.
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