Bayern Munich are in the finals of this years Champions League, after overcoming Real Madrid 3-1 in a dramatic penalty shootout. Madrid beat Bayern 2-1 (3-3 agg) at home to take the match into extra time and then penalties, where the Germans trumped them after surprising misses from Ronaldo, Kaka and Ramos.
Schweinsteiger scored the winning penalty, to earn Bayern the right to play Chelsea in the finals at home in the Allianz Arena in Munich. The semifinal results once again showed the unpredictable nature of the sport as both Bayern and Chelsea were considered to be the underdogs against their opponents Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.
The match taking place at the Santiago Bernabeau in Madrid started off in exciting fashion, with both teams playing attacking football. The first breakthrough of the match came as early as in the third minute, when Alaba unintentionally handled the ball in the box as he went to ground to block Di Maria’s shot. Ronaldo calmly tucked it into the bottom right corner as Neuer dived the other way.
Bayern almost equalized three minutes later from a swift counter attacking move, as Robben failed to convert Alaba’s cross from the left flank, in what should have been an easy finish for the experienced Dutchman. A few minutes on, Ribery nearly scored after Casillas spilled a particularly venomous 20 yard hit from Mario Gomez, Khedira did really well to make the block just in time.
Just fourteen minutes into the match, Ronaldo scored again as the Bayern defense was caught off guard, by a brilliant through ball from Ozil. Roanldo clamly slots the ball past Neuer in the bottom left corner. Bayern were 2-0 down at this stage and in desperate need of a goal.
Bayern had their prayers answered as Pepe brought down Gomez in the box just as he was about to latch on to an excellent cross from Robben. Yellow card for Pepe and a penalty for Bayern. Robben just about managed to squeeze the penalty past Casillas who got his fingertips to the ball. A short while later, Gomez was played onside by a dissecting pass from Kroos, but he makes a half hearted attempt, shooting straight at the keeper thinking he was offside.
Just before the stroke of half time, Bayern get a free kick right at the edge of the area as Pepe tackled Robben. Robben’s curling free kick was on target but Casillas made a well anticipated save. Both teams’ defenses had looked shaky so far and exposed to counter attacks.
In the second half, both teams tightened their defense and failed to create any clear chances on goal. The score line remained the same for the rest of the match after an uneventful half. The two teams were tied 3-3 on aggregate and the match went into extra time.
Extra time remained as uneventful as the second half except for two good chances for Kaka and Granero and both managed to squander their chances as they took too much time on the ball. Estaban Granero was tackled from behind by Neuer and brought down in the box which looked like a penalty but the referee booked him for diving instead. By now, the players looked tired and penalties seemed inevitable.
Bayern scored their first two penalties with ease as both Alaba and Gomez calmly slotted the ball in the bottom left corner. On the other hand, to Madrid’s dismay, both Ronaldo’s and Kaka’s almost identical shots were stopped by Neuer. Casillas saves the shot from Kroos and Alonso scores to raise Real’s hopes. Lahm stepped up next for Bayern and scored straight down the centre. Sergio Ramos had to score to keep Madrid in the game but his disastrous penalty soared high up in the air and cleared the crossbar by quite some distance to send Bayern through to the finals with an unassailable 3-2 lead in penalties.
Bayern will take on a resurgent Chelsea squad in the final on May 19th in Munich. Though Bayern will have home advantage, the game promises to be an even contest and both sides will be missing key players through suspension. Also both teams are out of the running for their respective domestic leagues and will be focused harder than ever on this match. Indeed this is a fixture not many would have anticipated, but both teams have proven over the last two weeks that they are the most deserving contenders for the coveted trophy.