Football, we're led to believe, is developing into a simple game. A game played out on calculators and on paper as opposed to on the pitch.
Have more possession, complete more passes and create more chances and you'll invariably win the match—especially if you have two legs in which to win it.
So you won't be at all surprised to learn that, over two games between Real Madrid and Galatasaray, the team with more possession (53.5 percent), more shots (27) and a better pass completion rate (85.5 percent)... Lost.
On Tuesday night at the Turk Telekom Arena, Fatih Terim's men exited the Champions League after a 5-3 aggregate defeat to Jose Mourinho's Madrid. The damage was done last week at the Bernabeu and inside the first 10 minutes in Istanbul.
First-half goals in the Spanish capital from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema were added to in the second 45 minutes by Gonzalo Higuain. Gala were not without their chances though—and felt rightly aggrieved at some decisions.
“[The referee's] decisions helped Madrid. He made many errors," said midfielder Selcuk Inan (via Goal.com) in reference to Burak Yilmaz's booking which kept him out of the second leg.
Missed chances will also have frustrated Terim, who was dismissed from the dugout in the first leg as he protested what he felt were unfair calls against his side.
It all left Galatasaray with a small mountain to climb. Inside the first 10 minutes of the return leg, Ronaldo applied the simplest of finishes to leave the home side needing five, without reply, to save their status in the competition. The mountain became Everest.
If Emmanuel Eboue's equalizer—which flew past the stranded Diego Lopez—was only supposed to act as a consolation, quickfire goals 15 minutes later from Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba soon had the Galatasaray Ultras rocking the stadium in fevered anticipation of something special.
"My team only became a team at the very end. Why?" Mourinho later said to Sky Italia, answering his own question, "Because they were scared, that's why."
The Turkish side had 20 minutes to find two more goals and to send shock waves through European football. They weren't to be found though, and by the time Ronaldo clinically added his second of the night in stoppage time, realistic hopes of any miracles had fizzled out.
Talking to English broadcaster ITV, Mourinho added "[Galatasary] are strong mentally, I know they play with 50,000 plus 11. But we are in the semi-final and that's what really matters."
Honest words and not ones that should be taken as patronizing toward the Turkish club. For a while they had Los Blancos rocking, the unthinkable began to look thinkable.
It remained unthinkable though, and Galatasaray will be forced to remember a lesson in the efficiency of taking chances when they look back at this chapter in their history.
While they might have shaded possession, passed the ball better and created more chances over the two legs, they ended up as just another side unable to stop the ruthless nature of Madrid's counter-attacking brilliance.
The Spanish club's pursuit of La Decima chugs on, but if they continue to allow so many chances against them in the semifinal, no matter how well they take their opportunities, the opposition might not be so forgiving.
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