In this special edition of “The Corner”, we reflect on the first leg clashes in the Champions League semi- finals.
Atletico Madrid v Chelsea
Atletico Madrid who haven’t reached this stage in 40 years, faced Chelsea, champions in 2012. It was the London club’s seventh appearance in the semis in 11 seasons.
The Madrid side dominated the match in Vicento Calderon, but failed to score.
The goalless draw sets up an intriguing second leg in London. But the Chelsea squad paid dearly for their stout defending in Spain.
Both goalkeeper Petr Cech and captain, central defender John Terry will be missing. They were ruled out for the rest of the season after sustaining injuries in the match.
“We knew how they were going to play, we weren’t able to crack their defence because it was so solid. It leaves the tie open, different possibilities, and we’ll see next week whether the scoreless draw was good for them or for us,” Atletico Madrid Coach Diego Simeone told reporters in his post match press conference.
Chelsea Coach Jose Mourinho offered particular praise for his goalkeeper who was not named as the official Man-of-the-Match.
“A very difficult team, very physical team, fantastic in set plays, in dead balls. To stop them the way we did and without Mark Schwarzer being made Man-of-the-Match as he was not, I think was good. The team defended really well,” he said.
Real Madrid v Bayern Munich
Real Madrid, aiming to become champions for the 10th time, hosted defending champions Bayern Munich in the Santiago Bernabeu.
Carlo Ancelotti snuffed out the Bayern threat with counter attacking tactics defending deep before striking.
The goal came in the 19th minute with Karim Benzema giving Real the advantage and showing that Ancelotti’s plan worked on the night.
Bayern had more of the ball especially towards the end of the match but couldn’t create a clear scoring chance.
That was Real’s 8th successive home win in the Champions League – how will they use their advantage in the second leg in Munich in the Allianz Arena?
“The first half was fantastic. We had three or four clear chances because on the counter attack this team is extraordinary. It is normal to use these tactics against Bayern and to defend well. I think we did it for the best part of the match. The higher we defend the better we are,” was Real Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s reaction after the match.
“Of course if they had wanted the ball then the game would have been box-to-box. Sometimes you hear we should play a more vertical game but then the ball will move faster from end to end and when that happens Real are unstoppable.
“They are the best counter attacking team in the world, they are athletes – football players, but mainly athletes,” said Bayern Coach Pep Guardiola.
That’s it from this edition of The Corner – don’t forget to join us on Monday for our round up of European football.