Resilience at its best

Real Madrid’s top shape period continues with a successful draw against Liverpool. The Blancos move on to the next stage of the 2020/2021 Champions League competition. 

Photo credits: Real Madrid C.F.

By Daphne Seberich

Real Madrid are back in the semi-finals. For the eighth time in the last ten years, the Blancos are on track to raise the trophy with the big ears for the 14th time in their history. A brilliant first leg allowed the Merengues to fly to England with a significant advantage over their British competitors. The draw at Anfield against Liverpool was enough for the Madridistas to make it through to the last four of the 2020/2021 Champions League competition. 

Strikers Vinicius Jr. and Marco Asensio determined the fate of their team when it mattered the most, punishing Alisson with three goals during the first leg of the quarter-finals. The Madrid-based team is definitely on a high, coming from a 3-1 triumph at the Alfredo Di Stéfano against Liverpool and a 2-1 win against their rivals Barcelona at the almighty Clásico

Thibaut Courtois was a crucial asset for the Merengues. The Belgian proved to be in superb shape, impeding Liverpool to score an advantage. A particular moment in the match between the two giants of football was an incredible save by the Blancos’ goalkeeper. Courtois neutralized a dangerous attempt by Salah when he stroked the ball away from his goal with his left foot with incredible class and elegance.  

Photo credits: David Klein for REUTERS

Soon after, the Belgian goalkeeper had to perform another big save against James Milner. It was clear that the Reds would not leave the Champions League without giving a proper fight to the Blancos, especially at Anfield. The Madridistas’ efforts, although, were superior and allowed them to remain untouched for the first half of the match.

Benzema came close to putting the definitive nail in Liverpool’s coffin. A brilliant solo effort from the Real Madrid striker, who already scored a “work of art” goal at the Clásico the weekend before, almost put the Blancos ahead. The on-target shot was, although, not finalized, as the ball hit the post of Alisson’s goal. 

The strong performance of midfielder Kroos, Casemiro and evergreen Modrić allowed Real Madrid to get back on track in the second half. Even though their opponents were constantly pressing them in their half of the pitch, the trio assured their teammates by displaying resilience. 

Photo credits: Real Madrid C.F.

The Merengues almost put the game to bed with an attempt by Vinicius Jr., served by tenacious Fede Valverde, to pierce Alisson’s net. The Brazilian goalkeeper read the situation right away and came off his line to cleared the ball. 

The Spaniard came to this crucial match just barely having recovered from an ankle injury. His attendance came off as a surprise as Zidane’s starting eleven was announced to the public. Furthermore, Valverde was set to play for the first time as a  right-back in the typical 4-3-3 Real Madrid lineup.

Real Madrid will now face Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea in the semi-final of the Champions League. The Blues’ coach has well-renowned experience with the final stages of the competition, having reached last year’s final with PSG. The Blancos have acquired an enormous amount of experience, having lifted three trophies with the big ears for three years in a row. Zidane’s accomplishments speak for themselves. Can he succeed in becoming the most successful Real Madrid coach in the team’s history?

Photo credits: Real Madrid C.F.

Thomas Müller – the pillar of Bayern Munich

The deciding factor that determined the fate of both teams was Hans Flick’s smart move to exchange Javi Martinez for Bayern legend Thomas Müller. As soon as he entered the field, he proved to be a pillar of the Bavarian team. 

Photo credits: TyC Sports

By Daphne Seberich

It only ended in a draw between the Colchoneros and the German giants in the 5th matchday of Group A at the 2020/2021 Champions League tournament. Bayern München has secured first place in Group A with two games to spare, while Atlético de Madrid has to deliver at the last face-off against RB Salzburg in Austria to secure a spot in the round-of-16 of this year’s elite football tournament.  

Bayern proves to be a title contender for this year’s cup-with-the-big-ears tournament. Even though they weren’t playing with their top team, young stars like 17-year-old Musiala shined on the pitch of the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. The superiority of the German isn’t abysmal, but the Spaniards couldn’t avenge themselves. The Colchoneros took a beat in the match held in Munich, losing 4-0 against the Bavarian team. 

The German giants had extended their competition record run of victories to 15 this season, following the home defeat of Atlético with wins at Lokomotiv Moskva and Salzburg. A 3-1 home victory against the Austrians sealed the top spot of the ranking to move on to the knockout stage. The draw ended their winning streak.

In 2020 Bayern has prevailed in 38 of their 41 matches. After a 0-0 draw at home to Leipzig on the 9th of February, they were on a run of 23 successive competitive wins – a new German record – and 32 matches without defeat, until a 4-1 loss against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on the 27th of September brought their accomplishments to an end.

The first half of the match saw Atlético Madrid be more of a threat to the Group A ranking leaders, showing off their Portuguese no. 7 player João Félix (the new Cristiano?) and other assets like Correa and Carrasco. 

An ingenuity from defender Süle offers the youngster from Viseu a chance to pierce the net defended by Neuer’s replacement Alexander Nübel at the 26th minute of the match.

Then it was Bayern’s turn to show off their upcoming player Musiala, which they bought from Chelsea in 2019. The Brit hit the back of the net, missing out by a hair on a potential first goal in the Champions League

The second half of the game saw Bayern pick up the slack from the first minutes of the match, assuring their dominance on the pitch. Hernandez had a big occasion from a corner, just missing out on a head strike if it wasn’t for a miraculous intervention by the Colchoneros’ defense. 

João Felix makes the Bayern supporters shiver. In the 58th minute of the match, he blasts the ball onto the post of the German team’s goal. 

Bayern continuously attacked the Colchoneros, putting a lot of pressure on Simeone and his players. On the 85th round-of-the-clock, the match completely changes. Müller, the new entry for Bayern, who was well in the penalty area of the Spaniards, got knocked down by a naive Felipe, securing a penalty for his team. Oblak guessed the corner that Müller chose, but the ball surpassed the goal line and awarded Bayern the needed goal to avoid their first defeat in the Champions League since 15 consecutive wins.

The Germans are undoubtedly the favorites to raise the cup with the big ears for the second time in a row. Will they succeed? Only Real Madrid in the 2016/2017 season and AC Milan in 1989/1990 managed to defend their title. Could Bayern join those football giants in this exclusive statistic?

Photo credits: Milenio