Gareth Bale revels in Real glory
Bale plays a key role in Madrid’s demolition of Bayern in Munich
Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale celebrates with Cristiano Ronaldo after setting him up for the third goal against Bayern Munich during their Champion’s League semi-final in Munich. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters
Gareth Bale helped Real Madrid to dismantle Bayern Munich in their own stadium, taking his club to a first Champions League final since 2002, and said that momentous nights such as these were the reason why he moved from Tottenham Hotspur for a world record £86m last summer.
Real won 4-0 at the Allianz Arena to advance 5-0 on aggregate and they will face either Chelsea or Atlético Madrid in the final in Lisbon. Carlo Ancelotti, the Real manager, said he would be happy to face Chelsea, who sacked him in 2011 while José Mourinho, the Stamford Bridge manager, would surely like to face Real, from where he departed last summer.
It was the sheer force of Real’s first-half performance against the defending champions that took the breath away, with Sergio Ramos heading two goals inside the opening 20 minutes and Bale setting up the third for Cristiano Ronaldo on 34 minutes. Ronaldo added the fourth in second-half injury-time to leave Bayern broken.
“This is why I wanted to come to the biggest club in the world – to win trophies and to play in massive games,” said Bale, who won his first trophy at Real two weeks ago, when he scored the winning goal in the Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona.
“We know we have not won the Champions League yet and that we’ll have a difficult game in the final, whoever it might be against. But we are looking forward to it. There is one step to go.”
Ancelotti replaced Mourinho at Real last summer, having left Paris St-Germain and he is now eyeing the treble; Real trail the league leaders, Atlético, by six points and they have a game in hand. But it is the Champions League and Real’s quest for a tenth triumph in the competition that has captured the imagination of everyone connected to the club.
“To reach the final after 12 years is a huge objective,” Ancelotti said. “It makes me proud to have achieved it with the team and everyone around it. When I came to Madrid, there was a very special atmosphere and it is clear that this competition is very special for the club. To win it for the 10th time – you could feel the atmosphere, you could smell it in the air.
“We played the perfect game here. We defended brilliantly and we took advantage of the speed of our strikers. The president [Florentino Pérez] congratulated everyone. He was very happy and nothing more. When he’s happy, he doesn’t need to talk. It’s a victory and nothing more.”
The only blot for Real was the booking for the midfielder Xabi Alonso that rules him out of the final. “We are just very sad for Xabi and not only because of his technical profile that we will miss in the final but for his personal profile,” said Ancelotti. “He deserved to play in the final and his yellow card was really unfair.”
Real will now go to Lisbon on May 24th where they will face either Chelsea or Atlético Madrid, but Ancelotti is unconcerned with who their opponents will be.
“Chelsea have a lot of experience for this kind of game,” the Italian said. “On the other side, Atlético are a team with a lot of enthusiasm at this moment but it doesn’t matter.”
Bayern have gone off the boil since securing the Bundesliga title with seven matches to spare and this was a fourth defeat for them in eight games in all competitions. Pep Guardiola, the manager, blamed himself.
“I like to have ball possession,” Guardiola said. “The reason that we lost tonight was we didn’t have ball possession. We needed more control. We have to reflect on this and make our thoughts. Whether we can do this with the players, we have to talk about this with the club. I told the players at half time that it was a big mistake by me. The coach didn’t do a good job. We didn’t have the players in the right positions.”