By Tonte Davies
Robben, a Night-Hero
For a third straight season in four years, title-holders Bayern Munich once again, dribbled their way to the semi-final stage of Europe’s club elite competition: UEFA Champions League. The Bavarians defeated Manchester United by 3-1 in the return fixture of the quarter-final. Having been held to a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams transformed into a ‘theatre of possibilities’ for the Red Devils who went into last night’s fixture with the belief they “can go through” according to Wayne Rooney on uefa.com.
“We have to be at our best, we have to be focused…” said the striker who many feared would not make the cut for the team list in Germany. Despite the “believe” among David Moyes’ men going, the result panned out not to be what many United faithful hoped for. Although Patrice Evra’s 57th-minute stunning wonder-strike seemed to give Manchester United a sparkle of optimism, this sanguinity was however, short-lived with a Mario Mandzukic equalizer 59th minute goal.
As if Bayern’s wake up equalizer was not enough Thomas Muller’s 68th-minute goal set up by Arjen Robben, put the host in pole position for the semi-final stage. Finally, Robben made it a job done by slipping in a third goal in 76 minutes of the game. “these are the evenings you sacrifice everything for, you do all the training for. These nights are pure fun,” Robben is quoted as saying with reference to his practice of crosses with his right foot.
Bayern Munich qualified on 4-2 aggregate.
Building a ‘Nou Style’
While a ‘Nou style’ is expected to be developed by Gerard Martino-led Barcelona football club, Atletico Madrid will be planning strategies ahead of their semi-final fixture against a yet-to-be known opponent. Rojiblancos (as Atletico Madrid are called) advanced as favourites into the last four with a 2-1 aggregate win over the Blaugranas (aka Barcelona FC). The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw at the Nou Camp last week with the reverse fixture destined for the Vicente Calderon stadium, the home of Atletico Madrid.
As anticipated, the second leg which many predicted would have all the signs of a sandwich-like compact defense system and fluid flow passes was beyond expectation. “At certain points, we couldn’t do the things [we wanted]because of how our opponents played,” said Barcelona boss, Gerard Martino. Atletico Madrid’s Koke put the host ahead on aggregate in 5 minutes after followed by a bombardment of shots at Barcelona’s goal with the crossbar morphed as goalkeeper. After 6 games, Lionel Messi has failed to score a goal against Atletico Madrid. Barcelona’s failure to progress into the semi-final makes it their first time since 2007 the club has fallen short.
Atletico Madrid progress on 2-1 aggregate.
Real Madrid and Chelsea FC had qualified on Tuesday in two grueling matches against Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint Germain respectively. All four clubs head into Friday ahead of a draw which is a new initiative by UEFA, Europe’s football governing body.