Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich: Dramatic Semifinal Sends Germans Home for Final
Bastian Schweinsteiger went one way, Iker Casillas went the other, the ball flew into the net and 85,000 Madridistas fell silent as a nun at Sunday mass.
With that, it was over.
After a break-neck first half full of starts and stops and goals and misses, a tense and tight second half that felt more like a battle of nerves than wits and 30 grueling minutes of iron-man extra time, it came down to this.
A game of truth or dare.
The truth, of course, being that Germans never lose penalty shootouts—almost to the point of national pride—and not even when it's Jose Mourinho making the dare.
To be sure, it was quite a dare that Mourinho's Madrid threw down.
Unlike Lionel Messi before him, Ronaldo had stepped up in the semifinal second leg, filled the gap and scored when it really mattered. Because of that, Real had one foot in next month's final.
For the rest of the half, the match went vintage. Both teams emptied their catalogs, and the results were accordingly rich: skill, pace, emotion, riveting twists and misses, and drama, drama, drama and more drama.
As B/R's Dan Levy wrote on Twitter, the first half was so good that it could have served as an excellent introduction to any of your soccer-ambivalent friends.
If I was going to show someone how great soccer can be, I'd show the tape of this 30 mins. Open, fast, scoring, tough, fair, fun. #UCL— Dan Levy (@DanLevyThinks) April 25, 2012
In fairness, the tape should have ended there, at least until the penalty shootout.
The match itself ended in a 2-1 win for Real Madrid. To be honest, not a lot happened after halftime. Neither team wanted to make a fatal mistake, and the fact that only one substitute appeared before extra time confirmed that both were playing it safe.
After Ronaldo's weariness became plain, you had to wonder what kind of toll the weekend's "El Clasico" triumph over Barcelona had taken on Real. Still, with Mourinho working the controls, Madrid had a chance.
The Portuguese manager was vying for his third Champions League title with his third different team. In his already glorious European career, Mourinho has engineered more than a few miraculous escapes.
Who deserved to reach the final?
It was the team from Munich, of course. Fate wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
Now, Bayern will host Chelsea in a final that few probably wanted and fewer probably predicted. But considering the cosmic level of drama both finalists conjured in the semifinals, maybe it's the final we needed.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?