Friday, May 10, 2024

Real Madrid (likely) champions

We have the two finalists of this year's Champions League: Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. 

Borussia Dortmund defeated a shallow Paris St. Germain who everyone expected to be better at home in Paris after the narrow loss in Germany. One has to wonder whether they underestimated Dormund as Luis Enrique's tactics appeared unprepared for a side that was well-organised in defense and threatening on counterattacks. Even when Dortmund went ahead by the veteran Mats Hummels after a corner kick, the Parisians appeared unable to open Dortmund, who are deservedly in their third Champions League final. 

It does appear unlikely however, that Borussia Dortmund can win their second title as they will be facing the defending champions of Real Madrid, as well as a likely referee... 

Over the two matches against Bayern Munich, Real Madrid were good: they tied 2-2 in Munich, an excellent result before going back to Madrid. And indeed they pressured well in a first half that nevertheless ended 0-0, in part thanks to Manuel Neuer who looked like in his younger days. In the second half Bayern made some good changes, most of all Alphonse Davies, who came in with speed and technique, scoring a fantastic goal to bring the Germans ahead, and it looked like a German victory until the 88th minute when Joselu was on the spot when none other than the great Manuel Neuer could not hold the ball, and dropped it at Joselu's feet. 

1-1 still looked like extra time when Joselu scored for 2-1 in a situation that almost looked like off-side, but wasn’t. It was then that the referees took over to ensure Madrid's victory: Matthijs de Ligt scored for Bayern Munich, but was called off-side in a situation where the referee should never have whistled (let the play continue, as is the general rule), and Rudiger's arm appeared to cancel the offside. These things happen, yes, but in the world of VAR they shouldn't, and less should they happen when in such an important match. 

Congratulations to Real Madrid for the Champions League title!

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