Champions League 2013: Thrilling Finish Doesn't Hide Missed Chances for Madrid

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Champions League 2013: Thrilling Finish Doesn't Hide Missed Chances for Madrid
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Real Madrid saw their Champions League dream fall short in the semifinals for the third straight year, as they were knocked out by Borussia Dortmund.

The final score would read that Dortmund progressed 4-3 on aggregate after a thrilling second leg at the Bernabeu Stadium, but the reality was that regardless of the final aggregate score, Madrid's missed chances were the sole reason behind their early exit.

Granted, Dortmund were guilty of missing some chances throughout the second leg as well, but it's hard to fault the Germans too much for their stellar play here—even if the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Ilkay Gundogan missed key goalscoring chances.

This loss was all on Madrid; they only have themselves to blame for it.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

 

Los Blancos came into the fixture with a mountain of work ahead of them, having lost the first leg 4-1 in Germany and knowing they needed to start well here.

Everyone expected them to come out with an attacking formation and swift ball movement, which they soon proceeded to do. However, what was to transpire in the opening 15 minutes of the game was something that few predicted, and many could not believe the scenes unfolding in front of them.

Not only did Madrid create chances, they created some golden chances.

Gonzalo Higuain found himself through on goal after just three minutes of play—the type of chance that Madrid couldn't find in the first leg but were desperate to create here. Alas, with a poor first touch, his shot was quickly blocked by the oncoming Roman Weidenfeller, and the chance disappeared.

Madrid would again squander a key chance when a brilliant free kick found several players offside but in great space behind the Dortmund defense. However, those chances were nothing compared to the opportunities provided for Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Ozil in the next few minutes.

Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

 

After Robert Lewandowski squandered his chance at the other end, Madrid broke quickly, and Ronaldo found himself on the end of a brilliant long ball into the box.

The star winger controlled it perfectly on his chest, but put his shot right at Weidenfeller—something that Ozil will almost wish he did on 14 minutes.

After a superb flick-on, the German international found himself one-on-one with Weidenfeller on the top of the box. With Ronaldo screaming down the left for a through-ball—which would surely have led to the opening goal of the game—Ozil tried to beat the Dortmund goalkeeper via the near post, curling his left-footed shot wide of the upright and throwing away the best chance of the game.

Mesut Ozil's missed chance, screenshot via SBS On Demand

All four opportunities had the chances to be goals, and we can only imagine how much momentum and belief Los Blancos could have got if one—if not more—of those chances found the back of the net. We saw the Bernabeu explode when Karim Benzema netted in the final minutes of play, and we saw how it forced Dortmund into an uncomfortable defensive pattern that nearly lost them the game.

Imagine how this one could have ended if Madrid had that for 75 minutes.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

 

In the end, Los Blancos would live to rue those four key missed chances, as Dortmund soon established their pressing defense and started to dominate the midfield.

Mats Hummels began to assert himself at the back, with Neven Subotic also chiming in well. That pairing cut off all attempts through to Higuain and were responsible for a countless amount of Madrid's final passes not finding their intended targets.

They were the reason why Dortmund kept a clean sheet for over 80 minutes at the Bernabeu, and why a three-goal lead in hand was enough to see them through to the final—despite two goals in the final 10 minutes from Benzema and Sergio Ramos.

Falling just one goal short, Madrid would ultimately be left to rue their missed opportunities on the night, and ponder what could have been if they'd scored early.

Ozil, Higuain—even Ronaldo himself—squandered opportunities against a typically strong Dortmund defense. Had they taken those efforts, this one would have turned out much different for the home side, who still only fell one goal short of making their way to Wembley Stadium on May 25th.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

 

As much as this was another strong performance from the away side, the reality was that missed chances for Madrid were what defined this game.

They had the potential to break open the game early and, in the end, they decided who did and didn't emerge triumphant from the semifinals in 2013.

Los Blancos will have nobody to blame but themselves here.

Regardless of the chances that Dortmund missed at the other end, Madrid were the team who had the onus to score here, and they failed to do that for large portions of the game, despite having some of the most clear-cut chances fall their way throughout.

And you can guarantee that Jose Mourinho knows it, too.

 

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