Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid, Champions League semi-finals 1st Leg, Allianz Arena
Kickoff – 19:45 GMT (00:15 IST), Tuesday, 17th April 2012
It is kind of strange to be talking about the Champions League, especially when the club you support isn’t involved in the competition any more. But, the Champions League is the Champions League. It remains the most elite club football competition.
This years semi finals have 4 completely different football philosophies in action. We have the Catalans, who have a brilliant side, featuring the world’s best players, with their unique style of football, where they kill or rather bore the opposition with their passing. We have Real Madrid, who are nothing but Cristiano Ronaldo put together. There’s Bayern Munich, who can really play as a great team at times, and finally there’s Chelsea, who are enjoying a fine run of results under the guidance of Roberto di Matteo.
I may have gone a bit overboard by saying Real Madrid are all about Cristiano Ronaldo, because they are not. Under Jose Mourinho, Real have transformed from being the world’s most underachieving side, to a fearless attacking unit, with handsomely paid superstars like Ronaldo, Kaka, di Maria, Higuain and Benzema. But, they aren’t just about their attack. In the few Real games I have watched this season, I think their most consistent and best players have been the midfield trio of Xabi Alonso, and the Germans Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil.
Ozil may not have scored too many goals, but his link up play is second to none in Europe. With Khedira, he has formed a fine partnership for both club and country, and they have proved to be like the Iniesta-Xavi combination for Barcelona. Xabi Alonso, as well know is a finely tuned midfielder. His presence in the centre of midfield, has been vital to Real’s success in both league and Europe this season. He does most of the dirty work, and as always, doesn’t get as much attention as a Ronaldo or a Kaka may attract. Coming to which, Kaka seems like a completely rejuvenated player this season. Some of his goals have been astonishing, and he remains a great option to have on the bench.
The skinny di Maria also seems a player, whom Mourinho has just allowed to go out and play. He is a real menace on the wings, and with strikers with clinical efficiency, namely Benzema and Higuain, Madrid seem to be a devastating attacking unit. At the back, though, they are prone to conceding goals on the counter, which could just suit Bayern’s attacking style. Marcelo and Sergio Ramos are attack minded fullbacks, while Pepe and Alvaro Arbeloa have had their occasional shaky moments this season.
In complete contrast to Real Madrid’s power in the transfer market, is Bayern Munich. They have built a great side, with foundations from their very own famous academy. Captaining them for quite some time, is proud Bavarian left-back Philip Lahm. Thrust the mantle of captaincy at a very young age, he has shown impeccable maturity, in helping out a young Bayern defence. Holger Badstuber, all of 23 has been a rock at the back this season, and he has a great future ahead of him, while Jerome Boateng looks a completely different player from what he was at Manchester City. And, finally 19 year old Austrian player of the year David Alaba, has proved impressive enough to keep out the seasoned Daniel van Buyten out of the squad.
In midfield, Bayern possess more exciting talent. Luiz Gustavo is making the central defensive midfield position his own, as he forms a good cohesive partnership with another Bayern protege Toni Kroos, who has firmly established himself in the German national side.
Bayern’s attack needs no introduction. Arjen Robben and Frank Ribery are two world class individuals on the flanks, and probably represent the best wing partnership of any club in Europe. Arjen Robben will have some unfinished business with his old club of course. Thomas Muller, like most of his clubmates is proving to be a great prospect for the future, and he is all of 22. Mario Gomez, can be counted among the world’s deadliest strikers. Of Spanish descent, he has scored 11 times in 12 Champions League appearances this season, second only to Lionel Messi of Barcelona. His tally of 25 goals in 30 league games, is astounding too.
Bayern’s loss to Dortmund last week, have all but ended their title hopes. The Champions League final, which is going to be held in their impressive home, the Allianz Arena, will just add fresh impetus to the Bavarians, to make it to the final. It will be no easy task, as they face a resilient attacking force, masterminded by Jose Mourinho. All in all, we can expect two brilliant games of football.
Enjoy the game wherever you are. 🙂