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Matthew Coccoluto On April - 27 - 2012

Champions League at its Finest; Munich Shock the Bernabeu

Jump to May 19th.  Real Madrid finally emerge from the shadow of Barcelona, completing the double taking home La Liga and the Champions League. Ronaldo scores a wonderful goal and is now considered the best in the world. Most suprising of all is the big smile on Jose Mourinho’s face. It was a great fantasy and before Wednesday’s match, it looked like a very real possibility. Unfortunately football can be as cruel as it can be glorious and Bayern Munich shocked Mourinho’s men, by battling for 120 minutes before penalties would go in favor of the Germans.

In the most dramatic of fashions, the semi-final between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich went beyond a full 90 and was decided by penalties, with Munich coming out the victor. Many believed that this was Madrid’s game and even though Munich had won the first leg at home, Madrid were still the favorites. It wasn’t long before Cristiano Ronaldo brought Madrid up 2-0 and looked certain to advance into the final. However, a pk minutes before half would prove to be the difference maker as the teams went into the locker room, even on aggregate. The second half went on with both teams having a couple opportunities but nothing too threatening. As the extra time was played out fatigue set in and both teams didn’t look any more threatening. As the game went into pk’s the atmosphere intensified. After Munich netted the first, the man himself, Cristiano Ronaldo, was denied by Neuer. Munich soon found themselves up by 2. The next Madrid man to shoot, former player of the year, Kaka couldn’t do anything better as his shot was almost identical to Ronaldo’s. Casillas did his best to keep Madrid in it, saving two in a row, while Xabi Alonso brought one back. However, once Sergio Ramos sent his pk into orbit, it was clear that luck was not on Madrid’s side. Bastian Schweinsteiger stepped up, and as cool as a cucumber, sent it into the back of the net.

Bayern will now face Chelsea in the Champions League final at their home stadium. In a weird twist a fate, Munich are now favorites to bring home the biggest prize in football. Many are shocked by the matchup as an El Classico final seemed certain, but sports are unpredictable and, on any given match day, even the greatest can falter. In the grand scheme of things, this changes little. Although it is a disappointment for Madrid, it doesn’t do much to change their reputation. They will go on to win La Liga, barring a miracle, and most people will look back and say they were unlucky not to make it to the Champions League final, and many will even label them the best team in the world. For Munich and the Bundesliga it means so much more. Munich, always one of the best, sometimes gets looked at in a different light than the Spanish giants, mostly because they don’t receive the attention that Madrid or Barcelona do. All doubts about their class can be pushed aside. Regardless of their league performance, the win on Wednesday reassures that they are one of the elite in Europe.

It could have been all Spanish finals, Europa league and Champions league, but football is unpredictable. It has been said too many times that the best team on paper doesn’t always win because the game isn’t played on paper. With the right amount of skill, determination, and that ever so important little bit of luck, Chelsea and Munich moved on against what most people were saying prior to the match. The teams are locked in now only time separates us from the biggest game of the year.

Matthew Coccoluto

Originally from Boston now in LA. I work in production but football is my passion. I bleed black and white. Proud member of the Juventus Fan Club of Southern California. Forza Juve, Sempre Sara.

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