A wise man once said, “football, bloody hell!”
A quarter of an hour into the game, it looked like Real Madrid had the tie in the bag. 2-0 up and with their tails up, things looked good. But an Arjen Robben penalty – nearly saved by Casillas – levelled things, and neither team was able to score another after that. And so on to penalties it went.
Ronaldo and Kaka both saw their spot kicks saved by Neuer. After Alonso scored, Casillas had to save two to keep Real Madrid in it. And he did, showing why he’s earned the moniker St. Iker. The 2nd save was particularly special. However, Ramos could only blast high over the bar under intense pressure. Schweinsteiger scored, taking Bayern to the final in their home stadium. Can’t say they don’t deserve it, as they have been better over the two legs.
There’s been a lot of stupid criticism levelled at Ronaldo, Kaka and Ramos. I won’t dignify it with a response. Instead I’m just going to paste Mourinho’s post-match press conference below as he’s a lot better with words than I am:
“I think it’s difficult for any team to reach the semifinals two straight campaigns and it’s also difficult for a coach to reach them six times in eight years. We deserved to win because both games were tight. It is more difficult to play this match when you’re still in the fight to win the league title than when you’re not. I remember the semifinals I lost with Chelsea against Liverpool. They faced Fulham in the previous clash with their reserve players, while we used our main men in our weekend clash and ended up suffering from that.”
“It’s our fault because we would have used different players in our previous game if we weren’t fighting to win the league title. My men gave a fantastic performance. It is difficult to overcome a 2-1 result. They knew they couldn’t make any mistakes and felt great pressure. They were also exhausted in the penalty shootout. Together, both sides missed five penalties. Only those who shoot miss. I don’t miss because I don’t shoot them. Those who miss have balls and aren’t selfish. They do their best for the team. I am incredibly proud of my men.”
“Everyone makes mistakes. Superhumans only exist in the movies. These men are the best at their level, but people criticise them when they miss a shot. These critics are like people who get exhausted by climbing two flights of stairs and badly need a lift. My men ran like animals despite the pressure and missed in the final stretch, but what do you expect them to do? Would you rather see them die or see Bayern drawing the match? They played to the limit. I’m not here to make excuses, especially for our opponent. Teams that win two or three titles in one season achieve something incredible, but it is very difficult to reach the semifinals in two consecutive campaigns.”
“The final will be disputed between the fifth team in the Premier League and the runners-up in the Bundesliga, and both used their reserve players this weekend, while Real Madrid and Barcelona faced each other in the most important match of the season in the Spanish league. People listened to me when I said the calendar had to be adjusted in these circumstances in Italy, and it made me happy. I don’t have that power or enjoy such respect for my opinions here in Spain. We’ve started the most important month of the season with mid-week games and it’s resulted in yesterday’s and tonight’s results. Bayern won and were luckier than us.”
“The squad feels proud. The players know they have nothing to be sorry for. I’ve told them to go home to their wives and girlfriends and not hide because they have nothing to be ashamed about. I will absolutely try to win this title again with this team. I want to win with these players. It was important for the club and for us to win the Copa del Rey last season. We need six points to win the league and it would be fantastic to do so. This team has great room for improvement and so does the club. Clubs have to adapt to the times. If they believe I can continue to add to the team by staying on, and my players believe so too, then I feel I will stay.”
“I feel the pressure of knowing my players are subjected to great pressure. I currently enjoy the joy of others more than my own, and the same goes during bad times. That’s why this hurts. These players have worked very hard. There are four games left in the season and we have to take the six points we need like we’ve done till now: on our own. We worked hard and fought mightily. We will have had a good season if we win the league title and it will allow my men to feel they’ve done a good job. We will be here fighting for the Champions League again next season.”
“The final will be a good match and I would like Chelsea to win, but I have great respect for Bayern Munchen. Chelsea were heroic yesterday and I know some people believe they are the lords of the game and therefore entitled to criticise Chelsea or Inter Milan’s victory two years ago. I know the Blues behaved like heroes. Chelsea deserve it and Bayern are there too.”
—– Meanwhile, St. Iker posted this photo on Facebook of him trying to cheer up Kaka soon after the match. How lucky is Real Madrid to have Iker Casillas??
While today’s result has me dejected, fact of the matter is that this has been a hugely successful season for Real Madrid. If they pick up six points in their last four games (they will), they will win La Liga with an all-time goalscoring record. And they got incredibly close to making the Champions League final for the first time in a decade. No mean feat. Hala Madrid!!