Real Madrid leave Bayern’s defence in tatters
End of 12-year wait for La Decima in sight as brilliant Madrid tear Munich apart
Real’s Sergio Ramos, second left, scores his side’s second goal past Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer during the Champions League semi-final second leg at the Allianz Arena , Munich. Photograph: AP.
At long last, Real Madrid can almost touch La Decima. This was an occasion when the they had been confronted by tension, the weight of history, curses and a Bayern Munich team who were supposed to pass them to death. Yet Carlo Ancelotti, Cristiano Ronaldo, Sergio Ramos and, yes, Gareth Bale, sliced through it all with a performance of such swashbuckling brilliance that Bayern were reduced to a directionless mess.
It was in 2002 that Zinedine Zidane sculpted the volley against Bayer Leverkusen at Hampden Park to help Madrid to their ninth European Cup. The wait for the 10th has pushed the boundaries even of obsession. The narrative for Madrid has taken in too much semi-final heartache and too many managers sacked.
The expectation had been for a classic, for two of the game’s super-heavyweights to work each other to a standstill. Only one turned up. Bayern had beaten Real in four of their previous five European Cup semi-final meetings but this contest was effectively over with Ramos’s second thumping header before the halfway point of the first-half.
What followed, most notably the goals from Ronaldo, merely represented a savage turn of the knife and for Pep Guardiola and Bayern, it was a night of introspection, for wondering where their rampaging football had gone. There will be no successful Champions League defence for them but for Real, who had never previously won in Munich, the possibilities are tantalising.
Madrid believed that Bayern were vulnerable at the back. No one, though, could have predicted Bayern’s collective defensive implosion on a couple of early set pieces. Teams at any level, let alone the most rarefied, are not supposed to be breached like this.
Ramos was the beneficiary and how he revelled in letting off steam in front of the Bayern fans, who struggled to comprehend what was happening. Two years ago, at this stage of the competition, Ramos had missed the decisive penalty in Bayern’s shootout victory at the Bernabeu. His first goal came from a Luka Modric corner and if Ronaldo rose high in the centre, Ramos got even higher behind him, as Dante failed to stay tight. The header was too hot for Manuel Neuer to handle. Ramos’s second, though, was even better. From Angel Di Maria’s free-kick, Ramos reacted instinctively when the ball was flicked on to launch himself into a diving header that flashed home.
Even before the opening goal, Madrid looked threatening and Bale was off-target after Neuer had left his area to head clear.
Madrid pulverised Bayern in the first half and it was no exaggeration to say that it looked as though they might score with every forward thrust. It was remarkable to see how many three-on-three situations developed. Madrid’s runners bristled with menace. The only blot during 45 golden minutes for them was Xabi Alonso’s booking that rules him out of the final.
The third goal came when Madrid broke up an attack on the edge of their own area and Karim Benzema played Bale through and he powered past Boateng before sliding the ball square for the unmarked Ronaldo to finish. Ronaldo gestured with his hands that it was his 15th goal in 10 Champions League ties this season.
Search for consolation
The second-half became a futile search for a Bayern consolation and yet it finished with Ronaldo ramming a free-kick under the defensive wall and past Neuer. Ancelotti might wonder why on earth he should leave for Manchester United. Real are in the final for the first time in 12 years.
BAYERN MUNICH: Neuer, Alaba, Dante, Boateng, Lahm, Ribery (Gotze 72), Muller (Pizarro 72), Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Robben, Mandzukic (Javi Martinez 46). Subs not used: Raeder, Van Buyten, Rafinha, Hojbjerg. Booked: Dante.
REAL MADRID: Casillas, Carvajal, Sergio Ramos (Varane 75), Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Alonso, Modric, Bale, Di Maria (Casemiro 84), Ronaldo, Benzema (Isco 79). Subs not used: Diego Lopez, Marcelo, Morata, Illarramendi. Booked: Alonso.
Referee: Pedro Proenca (Portugal).