Final, 1-0 Real Madrid: The game is over. Real Madrid wins the first leg of this Champions League semifinal.
Real Madrid triumphed due to its balanced and focused approach throughout. Rather than trying to take the game to mighty Bayern Munich, the hosts committed themselves to defending first then picking their spots to attack. It worked, especially when Benzema struck in the first half.
Bayern Munich controlled play, but only created a handful of scoring chances, which Casillas turned away admirably. Guardiola tinkered with personnel and formations, but sticking to a possession-oriented attack played into Real Madrid’s hands. The hosts defended in numbers and limited space in their third of the field, making it difficult for Bayern Munich to break them down.
The result will please Real Madrid, who will travel to Germany next week knowing that if it scores once at the Allianz Arena, Bayern Munich will need to score at least three in order to progress. Bale and Ronaldo should be fully fit by then, which makes Real Madrid even more dangerous on the counter-attack. Bayern Munich should adopt a more conservative approach at home and trust that it can score at least once due to the quality of its passing and the players’ winning mentality.
That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.
90th minute +2, 1-0 Real Madrid: Bayern Munich has a late appeal for a penalty.
Muller was trying to turn and shoot from six yards out when Alonso bore down on him and made enough contact to stop him from scoring the tying goal.
Muller and Bayern wanted the penalty, but the referee didn’t give it.
84th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Casillas makes the save of the game, stopping Gotze’s half volley from 10 yards out.
One former Real Madrid sums up the moment well.
GUTI (@GUTY14HAZ) April 23, 2014
83rd minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: After a flurry of substations, the game continues largely in the same vein as it has unfolded so far.
Bayern Munich still has the advantage in possession, but Real Madrid is defending comfortably with numbers.
81st minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Muller shoots wide from outside the area.
Meanwhile, Isco leaves to a standing oveation. Illarramendi replaces him.
73rd minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Pepe can no longer continue. The Real Madrid defender limps off with Varane taking his place.
Real Madrid also substitutes Bale for Ronaldo.
Bayern Munich makes its final change, bringing on Muller for Schweinsteiger.
72nd minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Bayern Munich replaces Ribery with Gotze.
68th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Neuer saves Ronaldo’s low shot.
66th minute 1-0 Real Madrid: Martinez is coming on for Rafinha, as Guardiola makes his first change.
66th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: After sitting back for the first hour, Real Madrid is keen to push the play into Bayern Munich’s half.
The hosts are pressing Bayern Munich higher up the field, causing more turnovers in dangerous positions. It hasn’t led to any scoring chances yet, but it’s causing Bayern Munich some discomfort.
62nd minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Robben surges forward with a 50-yard dribble, but his shot is too weak to trouble Casillas.
57th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: The referee cautions Isco for a handball.
55th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Casillas punches Ribery’s dangerous cross clear.
Bayern Munich continues to threaten, while Real Madrid defends bravely.
49th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Pepe is receiving treatment after landing awkwardly in a tangle with Robben.
Pepe turned his ankle in the first half, so it’s something to watch in the second.
47th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Ronaldo forces Neuer to make a diving save.
The 29-year-old ran onto a pass inside Bayern Munich’s penalty area and shot from a tight angle.
46th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: There were no substitutions at halftime. The second half is under way.
Halftime, 1-0 Real Madrid: The referee blows the whistle for halftime, and Real Madrid takes its lead into the dressing room.
After failing to impose its will on Bayern Munich in the opening minutes, Real Madrid seemed content to soak up pressure and break forward on the counter-attack. The strategy is working. Bayern Munich pushes so many players forward (often seven at a time), Real Madrid has plenty of space into which it can launch its forward raids. It may not meet the expectations of the demanding Bernabeu crowd, but they’ll trade victory over artistry if it means advancing to the final.
Bayern Munich is in control, but it may have to change its approach in the second half. Along with Modric and Alonso, Real Madrid’s defenders are showing great focus and determination in repelling Bayern Munich’s forays into the penalty area. Guardiola’s team needs to use its width better, and Ribery must have a greater influence on the game. The same goes for the midfield trio of Lahm, Schweinsteiger and Kroos, who must contribute more going forward.
Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 23, 2014
41st minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Di Maria puts a left-footed shot over the bar from close range and a tight angle.
Real Madrid could easily have two or three goals with better finishing.
39th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Alonso blocks Robben’s shot, which looked like it was destined for the back of the goal.
34th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Bayern Munich still dominates possession, but Real Madrid is defending effectively when the play reaches its defensive third.
Bayern Munich’s final pass often comes from the wide areas (through Robben on the right and Alaba on the left), but they’re having trouble finding the head of Mandzukic because Pepe and Ramos mark him tightly at all times.
26th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Ronaldo misses a sitter from the penalty spot. The Portuguese superstar can’t believe himself.
The ball seemed to skip up at the last moment before Ronaldo tried to side-foot it past Neuer, causing him to shoot high.
Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 23, 2014
25th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: The game has gathered steam since Benzema’s goal.
Bayern Munich continues to probe in possession, but Real Madrid is showing real menace on the counter-attack.
20th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Ronaldo nearly makes it 2-0 with a powerful header, but he directs his effort into Neuer’s arms.
19th minute, 1-0 Real Madrid: Benzema taps home Coentrao’s cross to give Real Madrid an unexpected lead.
The goal came from a counter-attack. Ronaldo’s pass gave Coentrao some freedom in the left channel, and the Portuguese fullback laid a perfect pass across the face of goal for Benzema, who finished with ease.
13th minute, 0-0: Bayern Munich remains in control of the proceedings.
The Germans haven’t created much danger with their possession, but they finally threaten Real Madrid’s goal.
Robben’s deflected shot went wide, and Schweinsteiger headed the ensuing corner kick straight at Casillas.
Real Madrid fans are already voicing their frustrations with boos and whistles.
Sixth minute, 0-0: Bayern Munich is in control early on, as the visitors have repeatedly won the ball with their pressure and circulated it around — looking for weak spots in Real Madrid’s defense.
First minute, 0-0: The game is under way.
Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 23, 2014
Last one for you collectors http://t.co/tfaeVKG8iN—
Gary Neville (@GNev2) April 23, 2014
Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) April 23, 2014
Pregame: The big news is Bale starting on the bench. The Welshman was stricken by the flu this week, and Ancelotti decided that he wouldn’t play from the start.
Not starting Bale suggests that Real Madrid will look to control possession rather than counter-attack. Fans at the Bernabeu aren’t keen to see their team counter-attack against Bayern Munich or anyone else.
The rest of Real Madrid’s lineup looks to be strong. Coentrao and Carvajal will be in the spotlight, as they face Bayern Munich’s dynamic, all-world wingers Robben and Ribery.
Bayern’s starting 11 is marked by quality and versatility, as it boasts a number of players who can play different positions and on different sides of the field.
2:30 p.m.: Here are the lineups:
Iker Casillas (1), goalkeeper
Fabio Coentrao (5), left back
Pepe (3), center back
Sergio Ramos (4), center back
Daniel Carvajal (15), right back
Xabi Alonso (14), midfielder
Luka Modric (19), midfielder
Angel di Maria (22), midfielder
Isco (23), midfielder
Cristiano Ronaldo (7), forward
Karim Benzema (9), striker
Diego Lopez (25), goalkeeper
Raphael Varane (2), defender
Marcelo (12), defender
Casemiro (16), midfielder
Asier Illarramendi (24), midfielder
Gareth Bale (11), forward
Alvaro Morata (21), striker
Manuel Neuer (1), goalkeeper
David Alaba (27), left back
Dante (4), center back
Jerome Boateng (17), center back
Rafinha (13), right back
Philipp Lahm (21), midfielder
Bastian Schweinsteiger (31), midfielder
Toni Kroos (39), midfielder
Arjen Robben (10), midfielder
Franck Ribery (7), midfielder
Mario Mandzukic (9), striker
Leopold Zingerle (29), goalkeeper
Lukas Raeder (32), goalkeeper
Javi Martinez (8), defender
Mitchell Weiser (23), midfielder
Claudio Pizarro (14), midfielder
Mario Gotze (19), midfielder
Thomas Muller (25), forward
Noon ET: Pep Guardiola leads the reigning kings of European soccer into the lion’s den Wednesday, as Bayern Munich visits Real Madrid in the first leg of their two-game UEFA Champions League semifinal series.
The stage and stakes are the same as when these teams last met (in 2012), but the circumstances have changed. Champions League title holder Bayern Munich seeks to become the first team to successfully defend its crown (in the competition’s current format).
Meanwhile, Real Madrid obsessively seeks its elusive 10th European Cup, known simply as “La Decima,” and the Spanish giant believes head coach Carlo Ancelotti and superstar forward Cristiano Ronaldo can take it to the promised land.
Bayern Munich romped to the Bundesliga (German first division) title and has reached the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) final this season, but only Champions-League glory will confirm Guardiola’s first season in charge as an unqualified success.
Real Madrid claimed the Copa del Rey (Spanish Cup) last week and is locked in a heated race for the La Liga (Spanish first division) title. But head coach Carlo Ancelotti knows that Real Madrid covets its first European Cup since 2002 more than any other trophy.
Question marks exist in the lineups of both teams. Ronaldo is expected to play after recovering from knee and hamstring injuries which have sidelined him since April 2. Ronaldo’s attacking sidekick, Gareth Bale, has struggled with the flu this week, but he too should feature for Real Madrid.
Bayern Munich could be without left back David Alaba, but Manuel Neuer, arguably the world’s top goalkeeper, has recovered from a calf injury in time to man the goal.
Wednesday’s game starts the sixth semifinal meeting between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. The Germans have won four of them (in 1976, 1987, 2001 and 2012), while Real Madrid bested them in 2000.
Wednesday’s game kicks off at 2:45 p.m. Join us right here, as we’ll bring you all the action from the Bernabeu.
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