Thursday, April 19, 2012
Champions League 2012 semi-finals - first leg reactions
Well, well, well...there you have it. The first legs of both semi-finals are done and dusted, with still all to play for in the return legs. Bayern Munich have the advantage over Real Madrid following their 2-1 victory at the Allianz Arena on Tuesday, whereas Chelsea overcame Barcelona by a single Didier Drogba goal at Stamford Bridge to secure a slight advantage for the Blues.
The return legs are going to be interesting to say the least, Mesut Ozil's goal might prove to be extremely precious for Real Madrid as they have to chase the game from the start. Whereas Chelsea are probably going to endure another 90 minutes of Barcelona pressure which they'll have to hold off to go through.
Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid
The Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid game had all the attributes to be a classic, but it wasn't. Bayern Munich dominated the game, with Ribery pulling all the strings (and the grass when diving), and Real Madrid looked out of sorts for much of the game. Bayern Munich's discipline and compact play limited Madrid's potential threats (which had been auto-limited by themselves anyways with the defensive line-up that Mourinho had opted to go for).
The Germans did everything right and could've ended the whole tie on the night, but they didn't. The game is still up for grabs and anything can happen at the Bernabeu, but if my prediction at the start of the season was anything to go by - Bayern Munich should triumph or get the result that's needed in Spain to go on to the final (I predicted that Bayern would win the whole thing back in August). Bayern's defence is an exceptional unit which is the basis of their ability to move forward with ease.
Can Bayern pull it off? They probably could with such organization. Can Real Madrid come back and win? All it takes is a 1-0 win and they'll be through so, perhaps. This one is all open now.
Chelsea vs Barcelona
At Stamford Bridge though, we witnessed Barcelona's typical pressure throughout the entire game. Missed chances, hitting the post and what not, as Chelsea's men were all over the place. They may have had half their team defending that 1-0 lead and going for the counter-attack when an opportunity came around (which was extremely rare), but can you blame Chelsea for playing like that?
Any team that has tried to beat Barcelona by playing an attacking game has gotten slaughtered. The only way to beat them is to "park the bus" properly and hope for a lucky break. Chelsea did exactly that. Scored a goal, defended for their lives. Take nothing away from Barcelona's performance, as it was their normal exceptional attacking Football, but don't disregard the fact that Chelsea put in a defensive masterclass last night. It was attack vs defence for 90 minutes. Chelsea's entire team defended and they know they'll have to repeat the exact same thing at the Camp Nou to be in with a chance.
Whether it's by keeping 10 players behind the ball or not, if that's what it takes to beat THIS Barcelona team - which keeps strolling onto huge victories - then so be it. Defensive organization is as important as attacking plays, that's what Football is about. When faced with such an opposition, arguably the best team in the world, then using the tools that match to stop them is necessary.
In the return leg, will Chelsea be able to keep Barcelona at bay? I doubt it. Is this 1-0 result enough to take to the Camp Nou? Not yet. Are they in with a chance? They've given themselves a bloody good one with this result and the possibility of defending a 1-0 lead.