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Real beat Bayern but concede 2 crucial away goals

By S.Aravind
February 21 2007

Karl-Heinz said before kickoff that the UEFA have to do something about the fact that such Classic games come so early in the competition.One must admire the foresight of the Bayern Chairman as once again, the clash of these 2 titans proved to be a melodramatic treat for the football lovers The tie between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich is by far the most coveted, richest and dramatic of European encounters one could ever imagine. Legends have been unearthed at their prime form (Zidane, Oliver Khan, Raul) in this very same fixture.

A tenacious 2nd half performance by Bayern allowed them to get the upper hand in this tie after things looked bleak due to a blitzkrieg of a 1st half by Madrid in which they scored 3 goals. Some astute substitutions from Ottmar Hitzfield allowed Bayern to do what most of the Spanish teams have been doing to Madrid this season, which is to control possession and outstretch their amoebic midfield.

Getting back to reviewing the game, Real Madrid fielded the best Capello-esque lineup possible with 3 key changes to the 11 that played versus Betis. Raul directly replaced Robinho, Higuain partnered Ruud upfront and Carlos came in for the injured Ramos. Bayern Munich made changes after their shock loss to Alemannia Aachen in the weekend. Podolski and Hargreaves returned to the line up for Pizzaro and Salihamidzic, the demoted pair would have a huge impact in the game during the 2nd half.

An 80,000 full house at a rain-drenched Bernabeu witnessed a great start for Madrid when Raul latched on to Ruudís through ball by making a great back door run from his wide left position and excellently finished it past his old foe, Oliver Khan. 1-0 to Real and the early goal was something of a shock to the bereaved Madridstas. They were beamed back to reality when Lucio climbed high over Cannavaro and equalized for Bayern from a superb 40 yard Willy Sagnol set piece. Clearly, the lack of height and defensive grit (excluding the back 4, Gago is the only naturally defensive minded player) cost Madrid that goal. The heritage for Madrid in this fixture must have allowed them to capture the lead again out of nowhere. Helguera met Beckhamís pinpoint corner and his looping header was brilliantly poached into the goal with the mildest of touches from Raul. Soon, Bernabeu went ecstatic when Van Nistelrooy sneaked behind Van Buyten to finish an excellent free kick from a rejuvenated Becks.

The 2nd half started in similar fashion to the blitzkrieg in the 1st half. Beckham was in the mix of things again and Madrid benefited from his endeavor off the ball and accuracy on the ball. A superb cross field ball to Higuain led to a routine save for Khan and in few moments time, the German legend parried a trademark Becks free kick outstandingly. But that was that from Real as an attacking force, as the additional width offered by substitutes, Salihamidzic and Pizarro (for the subdued pair of Demichelis and Podolski), allowed Bayern to seize the initiative. Makaay volleyed wide from Salihamdzicís cross while Schweinsteiger and Bommel drove from distance. Casillas made an excellent stop after Pizarro's twisting and turning foray into the box as the Reds pummeled away at the home goal. The visitors saved the best until last as super-sub Mehmet Scholl provided the cross from which Van Bommel smote a volley past Casillas's despairing dive, keeping Bayern alive in the tie. On the whole, it was an action packed night for both sets of fans. Madridstas would be happy about the fact that their side was getting back its scoring touch and Raulís refusal to lie down. Roberto Carlos made a short encouraging return to the team before leaving in the 2nd half holding his knee. Thatís the only concern Madrid fans would have considering how anxious they must have been coming into this game. Bayern might go with extra confidence to Allianz Arena for the return leg but surely, Capello must be relishing this tie as the demands of the game suits his style and team. The Bavarians never looked anything special and their strikers need to pull up their socks if they want to help their side progress to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
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