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Bayern Were Minutes Away From the Final, but With Neuer’s Baki, Real Became a Bully Again

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At the beginning of the final game, it seemed that Bayern Munich would teach Real Madrid a lesson not seen in 33 years, but the Bavarians paid for Manuel Neuer’s man-of-the-match goal. The record winner of the Champions League turned the game around with goals in the 88th and 91st minutes, and thus reached the 18th final in its history in the most prestigious European cup series. Instead of the veteran goalkeeper, a veteran striker, Joselu, sent in for the last ten minutes, became the hero.

The smell of fresh rain filtered through the open window. However, the taps of the drops could not be heard, they were drowned out by the murmur filtering through the Bernabéu through the television. At this point, it seemed impossible to say whether the clouds above Budapest had already mourned the hopes of the home fans of Bayern or Real. It is a fact, however, that the Spanish giants have advanced to the Champions League fifteen times out of the last sixteen times, if they were able to finish their match at home after a draw away from home. The only time it turned out differently? In 1991, Spartak Moscow was able to prank the royal guard, then still in Soviet colors!

However, from the point of view of the Munich team, the fact that they came out better four times out of the seven BL semi-final duels so far could be a reason for serious optimism. Although the last two occasions have brought success to Real, for a long time before that it seemed that Madrid were cursed if they had to crush their German rivals at this stage of the series.

Of the two teams, Bayern had more substitutions compared to the 2-2 first leg: Thomas Tuchel named Matthijs de Ligt, who recovered from his injury last week, in the starting lineup, as well as the young Alexandar Pavlovic in place of Leon Goretzka, and Serge Gnabry in place of Thomas Müller. This time, the German specialist, who will definitely be leaving in the summer, cast his vote in favor of the wingers, with the left-footed Leroy Sané on the right wing and the right-footed Gnabry on the left, which preliminarily predicted a lot of inward movement and attempts to shoot through from the top of the penalty area instead of passes from the wing. Pavlovic’s deployment resulted in a deeper defensive line, with less pressing and counter-attacks than Goretzka’s presence could have guaranteed. Carlo Ancelotti made only one change, this time Dani Carvajal started on the right side of the defence.

Bayern Were Minutes Away From the Final, but With Neuer’s Baki, Real Became a Bully Again.

No goals were scored from the first exchanges of blades, even though Carvajal flashed a life-threatening cross in front of the Munich goal, then Gnabry got a sensational start on the other side of the field, and then, contrary to prior expectations, he didn’t shoot inside, but instead tried to cross – not exactly Harry Kane in the direction of.

Real gradually took control. By pulling back, Bayern concentrated much more than in the first game on not leaving space for the Vinícius-Rodrygo duo to accelerate, so the Madrid players could serve much higher, passing the ball around the visiting penalty area again and again. The Munich team still had a goal threat from one counterattack, Kane’s shot was pushed away from the lower left by Andrij Lunyin, and not long after, Mazraui’s shot went wide of the goal.

Of the two goalkeepers, however, Manuel Neuer still had much more to do. The German veteran immediately had to show a great feat in the 13th minute, first pushing the ball onto the goal post with his fingertip after Vinícius’s jump, and then blocking Rodrygo’s repetition from the rebound. The interesting thing about the situation is that there were two balls on the field during the action, which should have stopped the game, and because of which there is a good chance that they would not have been able to score the home goal if any of the Brazilians caught Neuer.

The German had to show a great save in the 40th minute, he pushed a ball sharply shot by Vinícius into the front of the goal from near the left goal post, but he could only pounce on it after he was convinced that none of the attacking Madrid players would push him in the opposite direction.

Bayern’s wing game didn’t work at all in the first half, and Gnabry was injured after more than 25 minutes, so Tuchel could throw his original game plan in the trash. Perhaps this can also be attributed to the weaker performance seen in the middle of the half.

After the turn, the first five minutes were again pressed by both teams, after Vinícius’s run and cross from the left side, Madrid’s Alphonso Davies’ rebounding shot allowed them to win. The duel between the Brazilian running machine and Joshua Kimmich on the right side of the field seemed more and more pronounced, and the German, who returned to the position of wing defender after many years, did not seem at all unfazed. In the 55th minute, after another run by Vinícius, Rodrygo’s shot clipped the outside edge of the left post.

Real increased the pressure even more, from the free kick won by Jude Bellingham, Rodrygo would have curled into the upper right corner, but Neuer was able to save again with a spectacular Robinsonade. Then two minutes later, again: this time, Vinícius, who moved inside from the left and stunned three Bavarian defenders, deflected the shot from the top left corner.

In the last third of the regular time, Bayern came out of the grip. One sign of this was Jamal Musiala’s shot under the crossbar – this time it was Lunyin’s turn to produce a spectacular save. Two minutes later, even the Ukrainian was helpless, after Kane’s brilliant start, Davies sped up on the left wing, then pulled inside at the height of the penalty area and rolled magnificently into the long post (0-1). 

After the substitution of Luka Modric and Edouard Camavinga in the 71st minute, the Bernabéu almost exploded, as the ball went into Neuer’s goal. Another question, even though the home team celebrated in vain, the replay clearly showed that Kimmich was unable to block Federico Valverde’s multiple bouncing shots because Nacho grabbed him by the throat and face with both hands and overturned him. In the VAR era, there was no question that the goal would be withdrawn within seconds… And so it happened.

The home players puffed, like a viper, but this time they could only paralyze themselves with this poison. Kane’s beauty award-winning shot arrived soon after, which eventually missed Lunyin’s goal by inches. At the break, another substitute from Munich, Kim Min-jae, came close to scoring, but he nodded the ball onto the crossbar, and then it turned out that he pushed before jumping up, so this goal could not have been awarded either.

Madrid didn’t collapse completely, but the superiority they saw in the first 70 minutes of the match evaporated. However, the threat of a goal remained: after Antonio Rüdiger’s unexpectedly accurate start, Vinícius curled his shot past the long top, almost copying Davies’ shot. Tuchel had already brought Kane off the field, and it was clear from his every gesture that he just wanted to kill the remaining minutes.

However, this decision backfired. In the 88th minute, it was Neuer who could have been the best player of the match without the move: Vinícius dropped a poor shot in front of the arriving Joselu, who did not do the favor of missing the goal from four meters away (1-1). 

The sequence of moves was extremely unlucky from the veteran German’s point of view, but extremely lucky from the veteran Spanish striker’s point of view. All the more so, because in seconds he gave back to the white jerseys the faith and determination that the annulment of their previous equalizer took away from them for a good 15 minutes. But the extent to which Neuer’s move was a psychological turning point was revealed only a little later.

In the 92nd minute – after a long check – the Madrid substitutes were able to run onto the pitch almost celebrating the victory: at first, Joselu’s goal was canceled due to an offside from Rüdiger’s pass, then the VAR indicated that the goal was legal. Bayern was minutes away from the final, the Germans could almost feel the home final in their hands, but Real turned the game around in a period when it was less in the picture of the game (2-1).

The Munich team could not get back from here, the 90+13. De Ligt still managed a late goal in the minute, fate – the club’s DNA? good luck? Neuer? a worldwide conspiracy? the UFOs? – he took pity on the royals.

By the way, we will read a lot of debate about the latter goal, because offside was signaled in the middle of the action, even though, based on the replays, the player who always received the ball was not in an offside position: Müller, then De Ligt, who shot at the goal. The people of Munich also had a tantrum at the bench, while you could feel that even the Polish sportsman, Szymon Marciniak, was unsure of what the protocol was. So, in the end, even from this, the home team got out of it quite fortunately.




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