Game in a sentence
With goals from Ronaldo, Benzema and Higuain, Real Madrid easily triumph over Galatasaray in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals.
- Before the match there were plenty of sentimental exchanges between Jose Mourinho and his former players. Both Wesley Sneijder, who he managed at Inter from 2009-2010, and Didier Drogba at Chelsea from 2004-2007, praised the Portuguese coach.
- While Mou admitted his team would keep a special eye on both, he had little to worry about once the match began.
- Ronaldo scored his ninth Champions League goal this season. Mesut Oezil’s superb vision slid a perfectly timed ball between two opponents to CR7, who cleanly chipped it over Fernando Muslera. It was a splendid finish.
- Drogba always appeared dangerous on the ball, but Raphael Varane and Fabio Coentrao restricted his movements as well as his ability to find better positioning. As a result he was forced to take more long shots than desired. Madrid did a great job at cutting space from both Drogba and Burak Yilmaz even when Selcuk Inan and Hamit Altintop tried to get involved in the forward plays.
- For most of the game, the Turkish side lacked quality in its chances. Drogba and Yilmaz were paired up front with Sneijder positioned just behind them. But the combination wasn’t as deadly on the pitch as on paper. Most of Gala’s chances in the first 45 minutes were long shots, with Sneijder, Drogba and Emmanuel Eboue having some of the better attempts.
- Coming into this game, Real Madrid really needed more firepower from Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain (who was on the bench until the 65th minute). The French striker didn’t disappoint and made it 2-0 for his team on Michael Essien’s right cross.
- The Spanish side exposed Galatasaray’s vulnerabilities in defence. The Turkish side left way too much space for their opponents to operate and Madrid didn’t hesitate to take advantage.
- Madrid got lucky when the referee missed a Sami Khedira handball, but at the level Gala was playing it probably wouldn’t have mattered. Angel di Maria embellishing his injury was also quite embarrassing.
- Down by a goal, Gala played with confidence and self-assurance, but once the second goal went in, Madrid had set the tone. Gala appeared lost whereas Madrid always appeared a step ahead. While there were some rare bursts of energy from Gala, they just couldn’t keep up with the Los Blancos.
- Realizing Sneijder was ineffective; Fatih Terim replaced him with Goekhan Zan at the start of the second half. While it did tighten the space, Gala still looked sluggish and tired.
- The second half was a continuation of the first. Higuain’s header from Xabi Alonso’s free kick also found the net. This was the Argentine’s first goal this season in the CL. It was a painful match to watch after the third goal.
- At the end, Madrid were not only clinical but controlled the pace of the game. Gala could barely create chances in front of Madrid’s net and its attempts continued from a distance. It was also refreshing to have all of Madrid’s strikers contribute to the win.
- As if the results couldn’t get worse for Gala, Yilmaz received an undeserved yellow for diving and will miss the second leg now. Not too sure how the referee missed Sergio Ramos stepping on his foot (should have been a penalty). Ramos was eventually booked and will also miss the next match.
- In any case, the refereeing has been atrocious in the quarter-finals so far. Oezil and Benzema were also lucky to escape punishments for their challenges.
- If Real Madrid advances they’ll set another record in Champions League history for most semi-finals appearances (24).
- Gala, on the other hand, still have one more shot at home next week, but with no away- goal advantage, the task ahead will be difficult to overcome.