End of Bayern era

End of Bayern era

SEMI-FINAL, 2ND LEG BAYERN MUNICH 0 REAL MADRID 4 (Sergio Ramos 16, 20, Cristiano Ronaldo 34, 90) l Real win 5-0 on aggregate

"It was a fiasco," growled Bayern Munich's CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge to reporters. "It is best not to say anything." Quite.

In the history of the revamped Champions League, no champions have ever retained their title.

In their own stadium, in front of their own disbelieving supporters, Bayern had theirs forcibly removed by a ruthless and aggressive Real Madrid.

In what is swiftly becoming a trend of the latter stages of this season, the free-flowing and expressive hosts were nullified and then dismantled by the counter-attacks of their meticulous visitors.

Just as Liverpool were picked off by Chelsea last Sunday, so Bayern were taken down by Real.

As in the first leg, Pep Guardiola's team dominated possession and made all the early running, but they found themselves coming up against a thick white wall that obstructed their path.

The game was all but over inside the first 20 minutes, decided by the very antithesis of Guardiola's creed; simple set-pieces.

KILLER MOVES

Twice Real fired crosses into the Bayern box, twice Sergio Ramos was able to power home headers that left goalkeeper Manuel Neuer flailing.

With three quarters of the game left to play, the German side required four goals against a defence that didn't look like conceding even one.

Bayern responded the only way they knew how, by piling on the pressure and throwing more men forward.

It was precisely what Real coach Carlo Ancelotti expected them to do.

With acres of space opening up behind them, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale took full advantage.

There are no two players better suited to counter attacking football than this pair.

They broke like a tropical storm, tearing into Bayern's half, the Welshman feeding his more illustrious colleague, Ronaldo to slam home.

An impetuous second half free-kick, slipped under the wall as they jumped, only completed the humiliation.

The result will be taken by some as proof that Bayern's short period at the top of the game has ended, along with the effectiveness of tiki-taka and the reputation of Guardiola.

Such is the short-termist nature of modern football.

This result means no such thing of course, except to say that, as on Sunday, teams that are welded to one system will inevitably find themselves in trouble when they come up against a team that can withstand it.

The parallels with Liverpool were never more noticeable than in the second half when Bayern, like their red counterparts, simply ran out of ideas.

Guardiola will slip away to lick his wounds, but he can console himself with the memory of a record-breaking Bundesliga season and the prospect of a domestic double, a slight step down from Jupp Heynckes' last season, but in no way surprising.

After all, even perfection would only represent a plateau for Bayern this year.

Perhaps the arrival of Robert Lewandowski in the summer will give Guardiola a different option in the final third.

For Ancelotti, it is further proof of his value as a top level manager and probably scorches rumours that he will take over at Old Trafford in the summer. After a result like this, there's no way that Real will let him go now.

While Ancelotti has never been an ideologue and he will not be remembered for revolutionising the game, he has always had a tender touch with his players, always striking the right balance between discipline and understanding, bringing the best out of his charges.

At Chelsea, he won a double while playing the kind of football that Roman Abramovich had always wanted.

The fact that the Russian owner sacked him less than a year later is as staggering now as it was at the time.

Next month, there's a real chance that Ancelotti will show Abramovich the error of his ways.

They (Bayern) always leave space on the counter attack which we like. We have got quick players and we are able to exploit that. - Real Madrid forward Gareth Bale

npsports@sph.com.sg

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