Yeah, so the idea of a player attempting to prevent its future employer from winning a European Cup is out the window unfortunately:
So Dortmund will have to cope without the midfield creator for the final. Still, Klopp isn’t exactly begging for options:
Surely Marco Reus and the excellent Ilkay Guendogan will fill in that unfortunate blank. Still, not having Goetze is kind of worse than having Goetze. And it’s not exactly fortuitous as Dortmund haven’t won a match since Goetze walked off the pitch in the 14th minute of their second leg 2-0 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League. They’ve managed two draws and another loss, to Hoffenheim.
Beware mistaking cause and correlation of course. And besides, the animals have figured it all out anyway and everything’s coming up Dortmund:
Walter the orangutan, based in Dortmund’s zoo, backed his hometown club to claim a second European crown after local paper Ruhr Nachrichten had asked zookeeper Eddie Laudert to place two hessian sacks containing the two sides’ shirts on Walter’s high seat.
After initially moving towards the Bayern shirt, Walter favoured the Dortmund jersey, although his attempts to slip it on were unsuccessful.
Football is so stupid sometimes. Awesome, but stupid.
Game in a sentence
The humiliation continued as Bayern Munich hammer Barcelona 3-0 (7-0 agg) to reach the Champions League final for a second consecutive time.
- Bayern Munich was superiour in all aspects of the game. Defensively focused, and exceptional in midfield and attack.
- The shocking news before the match was the absence of Lionel Messi in the starting XI, due to an ongoing hamstring problem. Messi’s bench expression and nail biting only showed how antsy the player gets when he’s not on the field.
- But let’s not forget the trio of David Villa, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro all represent the Spanish national team as well as the recent 2012 European champions. In other words, the absence of Messi isn’t a justifiable excuse for the poor performance. And as Pique said after the match, his inclusion would have probably not made a difference.
- Bayern had to do without Dante, who was reportedly sick (flu), and instead Daniel van Buyten filled his shoes in centre back. Van Buyten has shown over and over again that when called upon he’s a very reliable backup.
- The German side has scored the most goals (26) in the Champions League this season. They increased that to 29 tonight.
- Barcelona had to draw a fine balance from the beginning. They knew they had to play an extraordinary game. To have any shot at making a comeback, the team had to play offensively, while also maintaining a very sound defensive game, especially against an attacking side of Bayern’s calibre.
- Arjen Robben got the first great chance for his team. He broke free after Bastian Schweinsteiger feed him the ball, but Gerard Pique’s tackle prevented the Dutchman from having a clear shot.
- Die Roten were ferocious on the right channel. They had another excellent chance that started with Robben’s pass to Schweini, who backheeled it to Philipp Lahm. The full back was in the process of taking the shot when Pique cleared the ball away. In the first half, most of Bayern’s chances were quite wasteful, but that changed in the last 45 minutes.
- Pique was exceptional in defence today with several tackles and clearances. That was, of course, until the own goal in the 72nd minute. Adriano and Marc Bartra also struggled with controlling Robben, Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Mueller’s advances deep in their zone.
- The game’s pace steadily picked up a quarter into the match with both sides creating several good opportunities. As in the first leg, the Spanish side had majority possession again.
- Barcelona had a few good chances. Fabregas chested a pass from Dani Alves that ended in front of Xavi, but the shot went beyond the bar. Fabregas also had a decent attempt in the 30th minute when he tried to tap it in.
- But that didn’t deter Bayern from their plan. They were in control for the entire 180 minutes. The Bavarians were extremely organized. Compared to last season, Bayern’s composure has been incredible this year. They don’t succumb to pressure as easily and play with an advanced sense of relaxation.
- Defensively the German side was just as solid, clearing balls with their heads and blocking shots with their bodies. Even when their backs were pinned against the wall, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and the remaining back four always made sure to recover the ball and intercept the opponent’s crosses.
- Six of Bayern’s footballers had to play cautiously to avoid missing the final including Schweini, Dante, Gomez, Martinez, Lahm and Gustavo, who were all one booking away.
- While the pressing wasn’t as intense as in the first leg, Bayern continued to attack, making it even harder for Barca to organize. With another 45 minutes to go, Barca really needed a miracle. It’s not often that one feels sympathetic towards the Spanish side, but the sooner the game ended the better.
- The mood at the Camp Nou went sour once Robben scored. In the 49th minute, Alaba’s long pass ended with Robben, who cut inside Barca’s penalty box. Victor Valdes stood no chance against the Dutchman’s classic driller. Barca now needed six goals to overcome the deficit.
- There was a very large contingent of Bayern fans at the match and were easily heard drowning out the home crowd.
- A rarity, but Tito Vilanova decided to take Xavi and Andres Iniesta out in the second half and replaced them with Alexis Sanchez and Thiago Alcantara.
- But the outcome only got worse. Thomas Mueller made it 3-0 in the 76th minute. This was a very humiliating night for the Catalans. With the quality available at Barcelona, the lack of goals became increasingly embarrassing. This was Barcelona’s worst aggregate CL defeat in a semi-final.
- As for Bayern, they were truly unstoppable and the superiour side in both legs.
- Bayern’s win, alongside Borussia Dortmund, is historic. For the first time in the competition will two German teams fight for the trophy in the final.
- Robben, however, knows there’s one more major hurdle to overcome: “The final is going to be a big one. Dortmund have proved over last two to three years they are a very good team. It will be decided on very small details.”
- We won’t know those details until May 25, 2012 in Wembley.
I’ll be the first to admit: there’s a part of me that can’t deal with watching my club play. I think a lot of us understand that feeling of dread well. How different it must be then for someone with actual money/job security on the line. Which is why I think we might give our sympathies to Hans-Joachim Watzke, the Borussia Dortmund chairman who locked himself in the washroom in the dying stages of Dortmund’s Champions League match against Real Madrid:
The Germans conceded two late goals to José Mourinho’s side before clinging on to secure a 4-3 aggregate win and book their place in the final at Wembley. “It seems like we only can do it with drama,” Watzke said on the club’s official website.
“For the first time in my life I had to give up due to heart problems. I went to the toilet for the last minutes, locked myself in, covered my ears and looked at my watch. I had all kinds of thoughts going through my head.”
Lord knows it might be a good idea for Watzke to pull a Billy Beane for the final and just go for a nice drive.
Game in a sentence
Two late goals from Real Madrid weren’t enough to advance to the Champions League final as Borussia Dortmund win 3-4 on aggregate.
- Despite a late scare in the final 10 minutes of the match, the thrill factor was largely absent for the rest of the match. 2-0 was as much as Madrid could muster.
- So yes, the team that has caught everyone’s imagination and adoration is heading to the final.
- Jose Mourinho made a few changes to the lineup. He left Sami Khedira out and instead paired Xabi Alonso with Luka Modric.
- Angel Di Maria also returned, allowing Mesut Oezil to play in his more natural position, in the centre right behind Gonzalo Higuain. The German international created many chances, but missed a crucial opportunity early in the game.
- Di Maria surely added a level of energy and speed that was missing in the first leg. Modric also connected finely with Di Maria and created several great passes.
- In the first 15 minutes, Higuain, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ozil all had incredible chances, but failed to convert. Higuain got the first chance for his team. His right-footer, however, was poor and Roman Weidenfeller was quick to cut down the angle and make the save with his stretched-out leg.
- That chance was followed by Ronaldo’s attempt, which went straight to the Dortmund keeper, who managed to make the save. Ozil had another excellent opportunity for Madrid on the right side, but his attempt also went wide.
- The majority of Madrid’s attacks came from the right flank in the first half. Alonso and Modric bonded for most of the night until Mou opted for change in the second. Modric’s effort and performance were top-notch. His passing was also very effective.
- Madrid excelled the first 30 minutes, yet their attacks slowly subsided. Their advancements left the German side tantalized with Marcel Schmelzer and Sven Bender looking quite vulnerable on the left side.
- Dortmund did a fine job of absorbing the Spanish side’s pressure. But the attacks also forced them to concede three corners early in the game. BVB was more reactive than proactive. Their high-tempo and high-pressing tactics were missing and only short spells of it were present today.
- At the beginning, the German side struggled to create any chances. It was only when los Blancos’ failed to sustain the pressure that die Schwarzgelben managed to step up their game. BVB’s first good opportunity came from Robert Lewandowski in the 13th minute. He couldn’t finish though.
- Goalkeepers were solid on both ends. Diego Lopez made several salient saves, and Weidenfeller kept his team in the game when it mattered. He produced important saves in the first 30 minutes as well as in the final 10 minutes, despite conceding two late goals.
- Mats Hummels also had a superb game tonight. He cleared and intercepted several of Madrid’s balls. Lukasz Piszczek also kept a close eye on Ronaldo and curtailed his movement deep in Dortmund’s own zone.
- In the 14th minute, Mario Goetze had to leave the game due to some sort of hamstring injury. He was replaced by Kevin Grosskreutz. German media reporting he’ll likely miss the match against Bayern Munich this Saturday, but should be fit for the CL final in Wembley.
- With all the licit and illicit pre-game talk by Mou, Sergio Ramos surely didn’t miss a word of it. He was excessively physical with the Polish striker and was lucky enough to get away with the fouls. Alonso also reacted very unprofessionally towards Lewandowski and appeared to slap the player in the face at one point during the game.
- In the second half, it was more of the same. Only now, Dortmund had the better chances, including a few by Robert Lewandowski, who just couldn’t repeat the magic away at the Bernabeu.
- His best attempt came in the 49th minute on a slide from Marco Reus, only to hit the crossbar. Although Reus didn’t make the same exceptional runs as we witnessed in the last match, he still had a strong performance tonight.
- The wastefulness continued, with a spectacular miss by Ilkay Gundogan in the 62nd minute. Gundogan really wasn’t as decisive as usual. When Reus slipped him the ball, he should have beaten Diego Lopez, but the Madrid keeper made a confident save throwing his full body in front of the ball. Credit to Lopez, the save was exceptional and well read.
- With time running out and the score still level, Mou brought on Karim Benzema for Higuain and Kaka for Fabio Coentrao in the 57th. He also replaced Alonso with Khedira. The substitutions soon made their impact. It was an intelligent move playing with one less defender as Madrid came very close to possibly creating an upset.
- The final 10 minutes were pulsating. In fact, it was so intense; that some at the game were reporting the BVB CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke reportedly left for the game once the score was 2-0 and didn’t return until the final whistle.
- While this wasn’t the most entertaining match, Benzema’s goal brought a message of hope to a demoralized side. He scored on a pass from Oezil in the 83rd. The next 7 minutes were thrilling.
- Madrid’s offence continued to hound Dortmund, with Weidenfeller making a series of key saves, but his defenders (and the team as whole, actually) struggled to clear the ball and Ramos eventually added another goal (with Benzema assisting) in the 88th minute.
- Could karma hit back at BVB? Could Madrid make a comeback? Dortmund dealt with the late scare much better in the five minutes of added time, clearing the ball and holding on to the ball to kill time.
- BVB’s unbeaten streak was finally brought to an end. They’re not invincible, after all. Despite losing tonight, they were the better team in the 180 minutes and deserved to advance to the CL final in Wembley.
- As for Madrid, the most important development there will deal with Mou and his future at the club.
- Perhaps, 2013 is the year of the Bundesliga. This could be the year the Germans make history and have an all-German Uefa final.
- Choosing three stars wasn’t so easy for this match with some players on both sides having a phenomenal night. Modric was key for Madrid. Oezil’s creativity was also in full swing, just unlucky at converting. Di Maria definitely an energy boost, but couldn’t finish. Lopez with some incredible saves and Benzema of course with a goal and assist. Whereas for Dortmund, Reus was strong, Hummels just as sturdy in defence and Weidenfeller (despite the two goals) made a few very very very important saves.
- Perhaps, the audience can choose the three best players for this game. Feel free to post them below.
Game in a sentence
Robert Lewandowski scores four goals as Borussia Dortmund hammer Real Madrid in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals.
- Dortmund are resilient in the face of controversy. The team didn’t allow the leaked news of Mario Goetze joining rivals Bayern Munich to destabilize their chances of reaching the Champions League final.
- There were even reports of tighter security during Dortmund’s training session, and one report even suggested Goetze’s brother was bullied at school.
- Juergen Klopp spoke and the players and fans listened. Klopp appealed for a special night and that is what he got. His team stayed united and didn’t allow Real Madrid to capitalize on the drama.
- Even the atmosphere at the stadium wasn’t hampered by the news although there were earlier fears of abuse and jeering towards Goetze.
- While all the pre-match talk was over Goetze, the game had Robert Lewandowski written all over it.
- In the 7th minute Marco Reus made a spectacular run from the half-way line past several Madrid defenders, but couldn’t get his shot near the net. The rebound ended with Lewandowski, who should have instinctively tapped it in rather than trying to do too much with the ball.
- A minute later, however, he made up for the earlier miss. Ilkay Gundogan passed the ball to Goetze who was waiting on the left. Goetze made the cross and Robert Lewandowski tapped it in, foiling Pepe. Lewandowski is now a top-scorer for Poland in the Champions League.
- At best, Madrid only looked dangerous for a few minutes, especially on the counter with their speed. But the Dortmund defence was rock solid and hindered them from establishing their usual pace.
- BVB were transitioning beautifully and pressing high up the pitch. The back-four, which at times appeared vulnerable in the past, were communicating brilliantly. Marcel Schmelzer was constantly throwing his body in front of the ball and troubling Mesut Oezil’s attempts from the right flank, who was paired with Luka Modric (Mou opted to go with him instead of Angel di Maria in the starting XI) in the centre and Ronaldo on the left.
- The entire game, Madrid struggled to create any real chances, with several coming from set pieces, especially in the first half. Oezil and Modric lacked creativity and kept having their passes intercepted. Sami Khedira was a physical presence, but his advancements were continually held back.
- Weidenfeller was absolutely stellar in net. He made a a few great saves on a slew of free kicks in the first 45 minutes. In the 24th minute he made a save on Ronaldo’s and then had to endure three more free-kicks from Xabi Alonso’s left side. One went wide and Weidenfeller made a double save on the third one.
- The German side did a fine job of containing Ronaldo, denying the Portuguese his trademark dribbling and speedy runs forward. As in the group stages, Dortmund cut Alonso out of the game, denying him the creative ability to make key passes to the forward line.
- A loss in concentration by BVB, allowed the Spanish side to score their only goal of the night. Dortmund were busy appealing for a penalty after Reus was brought down. Meanwhile Mats Hummels failed to control the ball and underhit it. Higuain was there to take advantage of the mistake and crossed it to Ronaldo, who volleyed it into the empty net. This was his 12th goal of the competition.
- But die Schwarzgelben were in cruise control, in particular their prolific striker Lewandowski. He scored his second in the 50th minute after Reus made a pass just outside the penalty box. Madrid protested saying it was offside, but the replay showed it was onside.
- The Polish international went on to score four goals, that’s four in 66 minutes, with one coming from a penalty kick. The penalty was awarded after Alonso pushed Reus to the ground.
- Pepe and Raphael Varane (with the latter starting off strong) really had difficulty defending against Lewandowski, whose hat-trick was a hard-fought effort. After controlling the ball from a forceful Schmelzer shot, Lewandowski slammed it into the top of the net. Diego Lopez stood no chance.
- Lewandowski became the first player in European football to score four goals against Real Madrid in a single game. And he almost made it five, but Diego Lopez, with probably his best save of the night, denied him that record.
- As always, the crowd at the Westfalenstadion exploded. Surprisingly, viewers weren’t treated to another brilliant tifo before kick-off. Perhaps, next time.
- Even after Madrid’s first goal, they failed to shift any momentum their way. BVB were incredible at controlling the game. Klopp wanted his team to play with Vollgasveranstaltungen and his team executed. It was another exciting and passionate performance.
- Die Schwarzgelben continued to play a very compact game denying Madrid the leeway to set up a pace. BVB were counterpressing all night and swarming key players on the Spanish side whenever they touched the ball.
- Jose Mourinho made a few substitutions in the second half, but it was pointless. Karim Benzema came on for Higuain, Kaka for Alonso and Di Maria for Modric. It’ll be hard to make a comeback now that they’re down 4-1, even with the return leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
- As for Dortmund, they’re the only team that still hasn’t lost a game in the CL.
- It’ll be hard to see Dortmund next season without Goetze, who has incredible chemistry with teammates Reus and striker Lewandowski. The wunderkind played another strong game tonight and was involved in the first goal.
- It’s on every football fans’ wishlist to keep this team intact. They’re truly something special, especially for a team that’s on a much smaller budget than any of the other European giants and even mid-table clubs.
Game in a sentence
Bayern Munich trash Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals.
- Initially it was hard to see Bayern Munich playing without Mario Mandzukic, who missed the game due to a suspension, but the win today only reaffirmed the depth of this team on both the domestic and the European level.
- Before the game, Jordi Roura said, “This will be a very tight tie. It will be won because of minor details. It will be a very fast game and very intense. The team that imposes themselves on the game with have the advantage.”
- Aside from the tight tie, Roura was correct in his analysis. But instead of his team, it was Bayern that dictated the game. The German side ripped Barcelona’s defence apart and hit the net four times.
- Lionel Messi was fit enough to play, yet he wasn’t 100% and it was obvious his injury continued to hamper his performance. Javier Mascherano and Carles Puyol were still out due to injuries.
- With two very excellent midfields, both teams were constantly pressing high up the pitch. While both were cautious, it was Bayern that slowly began to control the game.
- Around the 12th minute mark, the Spanish side had a long spell of possession that nearly lasted two minutes. Yet possession meant nothing in this game.
- Moreover, it was rare to see Bayern on the losing side of controlling the ball, but they proved today that they can also win games without leading in that category.
- The first goal was the result of a double header. Thomas Mueller, who is possibly one of the grittiest players in football, headed the ball low into the net after receiving it from Dante’s header. Credit should also be given to Arjen Robben, who managed to keep the ball inside the penalty box.
- From the beginning, Barca were quite vulnerable at the back four and Bayern managed to further exploit that weakness as the game went on. The Spanish side had as much trouble off the ball as they had with the ball. When the Catalans gained possession, it was tough for them to create any sort of momentum with Bayern constantly pushing forward.
- Creating and building were two words missing in Barcelona’s game today. Xavi, Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets weren’t connecting with Messi and the rest of the forward line. It wasn’t just Messi, but Pedro Rodrigue and Alexis Sanchez also weren’t exerting themselves.
- Bayern on the other hand were a very cohesive and organized unit. They never strayed from their plan and formation. Their performance was exceptional. Even under rare moments of Barca pressure, the team remained calm and proactive. The Bavarians managed to not only create several attempts, but also net a hefty chunk of them.
- The midfield was probably the busiest area of the pitch as both teams were trying to push each other back. But Barca seemed to struggle more than the German side and failed to build or set up from behind. When they did, there was always a red wall ready to intercept, block and counter.
- The German side approached the game with a superior plan. They made it difficult for Barca to find any quality openings on the pitch.
- A few minutes after the first goal, Messi was preying right in front of Bayern’s net, but a very clever slide by Dante kept the ball away from danger. The hero, who single-handedly helped win the game against Paris Saint-Germain, was nowhere to be found. For most of the match, he also appeared to play a lot deeper than usual.
- But Barcelona’s loss wasn’t just Messi’s lack of scoring, Rodriguez and Sanchez also didn’t threaten. Even Iniesta and Xavi’s passing choked whenever they entered Bayern territory.
- For the Germans, this was a deserved victory. It was hard to single out a few players for their remarkable performances. This was a truly beautiful team effort. Philipp Lahm and Robben were very dangerous on the right side. Franck Ribery’s speed was deadly and David Alaba provided an assist on the last goal. Javi Martinez was equally productive. He created a few excellent diagonal passes to his teammates upfront and won most of his duels.
- Robben was also playing a more involved defensive game. He contributed a goal and helped set up the second goal for Mario Gomez from a corner. Gomez ended up volleying the ball in from Mueller’s header in the 49th minute. It was a controversial goal and appeared to be slightly offside, but it was hard to see from the referee’s angle.
- Bayern were on a roll. They cruised to score two more goals. In the 73rd minute, the Dutchman finally scored after plenty of miserable and failed attempts in the Champions League this season, and of course, in last year’s final against Chelsea.
- Bayern were excellent on set pieces. They had the physical advantage and looked the more dangerous side throughout the match. Ribery and Robben combined for speed and deep runs into the opponent’s side. At one point, the Frenchman could have increased the lead from a beautiful Robben pass, but his strike just missed the net.
- Marc Bartra, who was paired with a shaved-head Gerard Pique, had two decent chances, one in the 69th and another one moments later. The first involved a weak effort and in the second one he tried to turn around, but in the process lost his grip and the resulting attempt was poor.
- Bayern scored a fourth goal in the 82nd minute. Mueller scored his second from Alaba’s slide on the left side. The striker was very influential and hard to mark for the opponent’s defenders.
- At the end, the German side played with consistency and determination.
- Barcelona were sore losers and emotions took the better of Jordi Alba, who threw the ball directly in Robben’s face near the end of the match. It was a very dirty play and he’ll now miss the next match.
- There were many fouls and handballs that went unnoticed by the referee. The centre circle of the pitch was also in a strange condition at the Allianz Arena. It was quite waterlogged compared to the rest of the field.
- This was the first time since 2010 that the Spanish side has conceded three goals in the Champions League. Barcelona now find themselves in a taxing position. They’re up against one of the best opponents in the competition with a four-goal deficit to overcome.
They’re both here:
I don’t normally tout or enjoy match previews, but Michael Cox has done a great job and was prescient too in pre-match personnel decisions. He also frames just how good, and similar, both sides are to one another:
It barely needs outlining precisely what ‘Barcelona’s game’ is after five years of dominance, but few other sides have been so determined to emphasise the importance of their philosophy. Recently the club posted a short article on their website boasting that they’ve now gone 300 consecutive games of possession dominance, a run stretching back to before Pep Guardiola took charge. They’ve helped popularise the concept of ‘possession battle’, while simultaneously ensuring that no proper battle actually occurs – they’re just too good at keeping the ball.
The article notes that Bayern are the closest challengers in this regard. In Europe’s major five leagues, Barcelona average 69.6% of possession, Bayern are next best on 63.6%. No-one else is on more than 58.9%.
Similarly, Barcelona’s pass completion rate is 89.7%, Bayern’s 87.4%, and no-one else above 86.1%.
As ever, separating the two sides is a question of depth. No Mandzukic or Kroos for Bayern; no Puyol or or Mascherano for Barca. But seeing the efficiency and balance of both sides will be fascinating too. Will the midfield be clogged in a fouled up mess as both sides frantically press one another to exhaustion? In that event, will there be a paucity of chances?
Or will Barca’s more direct, less-manic-out-of-possession approach allow for a Bayern edge and a Barca counter? The permutations are fascinating.