Real Madrid Out-Think and Outmuscle Bayern Munich as Decima Dream Nears

Paul WilkesFeatured ColumnistApril 29, 2014

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"It’s never been an obsession or a special love but when there is something missing on your resume it’s what attracts attention," said Sergio Ramos in an interview with Champions magazine before the match (h/t Football Espana).

The centre-back has a World Cup, two European Championships, four La Liga titles and two Copa del Rey trophies to his name. It's not a bad collection for the 28-year-old, yet there is one piece of silverware missing.

"I feel very fortunate to have won almost every title at the professional level but the Champions League remains," continued Ramos. "It’s not a constant obsession but it would be a dream come true."

That fantasy moved a step closer thanks to two headers from the Spanish defender inside 20 minutes.
Thanks to him, the club were about to reach their first European final in 12 years.

Matthias Schrader

Initially, Bayern Munich had moved the ball around at a greater tempo and with a certain amount of urgency. With Pep Guardiola's side holding a high defensive line, Manuel Neuer raced out of his box to head an Iker Casillas kick clear.

The ball fell invitingly for Gareth Bale to hit first-time, but with the goal unguarded his attempted volley flew over the bar. It was a difficult opportunity, but the look on Bale's face suggests he felt he should have done better.

The Welshman needn't have worried too much. His former Tottenham teammate Luka Modric swung a corner in for Ramos to open the scoring from a free header inside 16 minutes.

Then another set piece cost the Germans. It was Angel Di Maria's delivery from a free-kick that was flicked on by Pepe to the awaiting Ramos. For the second time in the game his superb header gave Madrid a goal.

At this stage in the first leg, Real Madrid had barely touched the ball, but here they were almost certainly going to participate in the final of the biggest club competition in the world.

Bayern were in shock, and the desperation in their approach was evident. The game was running away from them, and there seemed to be little they could do about it.

Matthias Schrader

Just after the half-hour mark, the counter-attacking excellence that we have come to expect from Real Madrid was on display. A clever Di Maria pass to Karim Benzema was well controlled then pushed into the path of the oncoming Bale.

Unselfishly, he squared the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo. His strike was a record 15th goal in the tournament this season.

The Portuguese forward was never going to miss, making it 3-0 to the away side. This meant that Bayern needed an incredible five goals to progress to Lisbon.

Los Blancos were in heaven, though surprisingly some of their players were making rash decisions that weren't required.

Xabi Alonso took Bastian Schweinsteiger out when there was no reason to make a challenge. The yellow card means the former Liverpool midfielder will now be suspended for the final. It was an unnecessary action from the experienced deep-lying playmaker, a "rush of blood to the head moment" that he will certainly regret.

Ramos was also in danger of missing the final if he picked up another caution. He was a little overzealous at times, and it was surprising that it took Carlo Ancelotti until the 75th minute to substitute him for Raphael Varane.

The whole of the Madrid back four were brilliant throughout the game, and Ramos was excellent at both ends of the pitch. He made a total of 11 clearances and two blocks in his own penalty area, via FourFourTwo Stats Zone.

Ronaldo topped off the perfect evening to make it 4-0 by cleverly hitting his free-kick under the legs of the jumping Bayern wall. This is the closest Real Madrid has come to collecting the much-discussed 10th European Cup/Champions League trophy in their history, La Decima.