Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Champions League | Savior Joselu shoots Real to Wembley, ‘VAR goal’ makes the decision crazy

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The small final. Or: preliminary final. That’s how it felt when superpowers Bayern Munich and Real Madrid faced each other. The ‘classic Champions League match’ emerged. The South Germans and Spanish capitals have faced each other 27 times before. Bayern won the Champions League/European Cup six times. Real did that no fewer than fourteen times. Also in this season, the millions (billions) teams were considered absolute contenders for the final victory. Real Madrid enjoyed national success: it became final champions of Spain last weekend. Bayern, on the other hand, had to relinquish the title to Bayer Leverkusen after 11 years. Yet both teams labeled this return match as the clash of the season.

In fact, only the Champions League final victory could mean something positive for Thomas Tuchel. The striking, nerve-wracking German has been bothered by the press for months. And by his own group of players, too. The unhappy marriage would have its ultimate ‘apotheosis’ at Wembley.

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Thomas Tuchel of Bayern Munich was often unable to control his emotions

Photo: Getty Images

“We are Real Madrid”

Colleague Carlo Ancelotti is in a completely opposite situation. He is adored by the Madrid supporters and is having an excellent season. “We are Real Madrid,” was his convincing answer to the question about the final chances. In other words: we are more than ready for it.

And that was evident in the first half. Real Madrid, as we don’t often see with the team, took the initiative to play football. It was high on the field and came with the first chances via Carvajal (sharp cross missed the attackers by a hair) and Vinicius (shot on the post). In fact, Real was constantly around Bayern’s penalty area. The roles were now reversed: Tuchel’s team were lurking on the counter.

Davies shoots Bayern 0-1

And those counter switches had to be sought mainly via the sides. Twice, Harry Kane was brought into position. First he narrowly missed a cross from Gnabry. Later in the first half he fired a beautiful volley at Andrij Lunin’s goal.

The Bavarian wall seemed to be cracking further and further. In the second half, Manuel Neuer was able to excel again with great reflexes. The powerlessness started to creep into Carlo Ancelotti’s team, and just at that moment, substitute Alphonso Davies struck. The hero of the quarter-final, Antonio Rüdiger, was painfully cut down by the Canadian. This after Davies was launched by Harry Kane. The replacement for Serge Gnabry, who was injured, shot the ball wonderfully behind Lunin.

The VAR

Really no one had taken this into account. Probably not Bayern itself either. The miraculous 0-1 simply had to be held in the remainder. Even man of the evening Manuel Neur seemed to be able to be passed. A few minutes after Bayern’s opening goal, the ball fell behind Neuer from a free kick via several detours. The VAR corrected referee Szymon Marciniak: Nacho had pushed Joshua Kimmich full in the face.

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The disallowed goal after Nacho pushed Kimmich in the face

Photo: Getty Images

Everything that makes football so beautiful and extreme followed in the last 15 minutes. Manuel Neuer went from ‘man of the evening’ to ‘schlemiel tonight’. The club’s child, Joselu, was quick to save Vinicius’ shot.

Manuel Neur incomprehensibly misjudged the Brazilian’s attempt, which seemed easy to catch. Real Madrid had the momentum and Joselu thought he had scored the goal towards Wembley. Rüdiger’s cross was then shot in by Joselu in an offside position.

Fifteenth Champions League for Real?

But again the VAR had to give a definitive answer. The Bernabéu could explode for the second time. In the very, very last minutes, Bayern simply did not have the strength for it anymore. Yet it still pumped out a moment with Matthijs de Ligt, but his goal was in a wide offside position.

This time the VAR was not looked at. Real Madrid can win its fifteenth Champions League. This is an absolute top favorite against Dortmund. But tonight’s match proved again: football can be so mercilessly unpredictable.

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