Finally, at long last, the Madridista’s can dare to believe. The last time Real Madrid were in the final of the Champions League they went on to lift the trophy. On last night’s performance it would be hard to argue against the same feat occurring once again.
There simply aren’t enough superlatives in the English vocabulary to describe Real Madrid’s systematic dismantling of Bayern Munich under the phosphorescent lights of the Allianz Arena. From start to finish the Real contingent never looked like they were going to surrender the advantage gained from the first leg, as they mercilessly executed Carlo Ancelotti’s tactics to devastating effect.
For Pep Guardiola, though, the 5-0 aggregate loss will surely bring back painful memories from the previous campaign, when his Barcelona side were ruthlessly put to the sword in a 7-0 semi-final aggregate defeat against the very same side that he must now try and piece back together.
This tie had all the potential to be a classic. Madrid had the one goal advantage whilst Bayern had an army of 75,000 fans behind them willing them on. By half time, though, any idea of a contest had been suitably forgotten as Real Madrid set about tearing apart Guardiola’s men and the Bayern fan’s dreams of retaining European football’s most coveted trophy.
The signs were there for all to see from as early as the eighth minute when Di Maria’s scything ball split the Bayern defence in two and Manuel Neuer scramble off his line to nervously head the ball in to the path of Gareth Bale. Fortunately for the German keeper, Bale lacked composure in front of an open goal and smashed it over the bar.
The Galactico’s early counter-attacking pressure soon paid off though as Sergio Ramos deployed a bullet header from a set-piece on the quarter hour mark that left Bayern’s David Alaba and Dante completely rooted to the floor. Ramos simply wanted it more, and so did Madrid.
The tie was effectively decided by the twentieth minute when Ramos once again lost his marker, this time Mario Mandzukic, to glance a beautifully weighted Di Maria free-kick into the corner of the net. Bayern fans would have been left feeling incredulous after conceding two goals from set pieces. The feeble nature of the German club’s defending was a long way off from the impenetrable unit that they had erected in front of goal for so long during the course of the season.
Rather than attempting to remedy the dire set of circumstances they found themselves in, Bayern became frustrated. An apoplectic Frank Ribery began resulting to finger pointing, slapping, kicking and remonstrating with opposition players in an attempt to force his way under the Real Madrid player’s collective skin.
The Spanish giants, though, were unfazed by Bayern’s cheap tricks. They maintained their poise and, on the half hour mark, administered a lightning strike counter attack that climaxed with Cristiano Ronaldo slotting underneath the despairing Neuer. The Ballon d’Or winner wheeled away in sheer euphoria as he became the first player to score fifteen goals in a single Champions League campaign.
From the moment Ribery lost possession in the opposition six yard box it took just eleven seconds for the ball to end up in the Bayern Munich net. A devastating move which typified a resounding half of football and illustrated how, for all Bayern’s dominance in possession, were powerless against a Madrid side that were unified in defence and stunning in attack.
The first half not only demonstrated why Ancelotti’s men would be worthy winners of the Champions League but it also highlighted many reasons why Bayern were right to be disposed of in the way that they were.
They were sluggish, ill-disciplined and completely overrun through the middle of the pitch. The lack of cohesion at the back resonated through to the midfield where pass after pass was being misplaced and Real were able to comfortably soak up the pressure.
Throughout the second half Madrid were more cautious but still had the assurance of a team that knew they were already in the final, whilst Bayern still persisted with a brand of football that is becoming less and less effective on the European stage each year.
What was perhaps more worrying for the Bayern fans was the lack of a plan B. Surely Guardiola wasn’t that naive to assume that possession football was his ticket to the final? If this was the case then he was gravely mistaken, as Real shut down every effort the German champions made to pass their way through the Galactico’s back line.
Ronaldo’s smartly taken free kick in the dying stages of the game was the icing on the cake for a performance that was engineered and executed to perfection. The 4-0 scoreline is perhaps flattering for a Bayern side that must surely now go back to the drawing board and contemplate a change of tack.
In recent weeks the Bavarian juggernaut has began to turn into an old relic, and it is Guardiola’s responsibility to make the necessary changes or face the wrath of the fans.
For Ancelotti and his Madrid side it could not have gone any better. Despite falling behind in the race for the title they must now surely be odds on favourites to claim their first Champions League trophy in thirteen seasons.