Apr 25, 2012, 2:36 AM EDT
What a strange world Chelsea’s win has left us. All of a sudden there’s been an unmasking of Darth Vader and we’re ready to root for the dark side, not knowing any better as we scream “Hala Madrid!” The feelings inspired by a potential José-Chelsea reunion are enough to make you forget Real Madrid trails Bayern Munich, 2-1.
Coming off a weekend win at Camp Nou, Los Blancos aren’t dwelling on last week’s result, either. Nor should they. For all the talk of Mourinho’s negative tactics (they weren’t that bad), the danger of the score (also, not that bad), and how well Bayern played (to a draw, were it not for Fabio Coentrão’s lapse), El Real need only the first goal to take the lead. If Real Madrid’s deemed weak after conceding a 90th minute winner at the Allianz, it’s a weakness to which most clubs would aspire.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes seems to realize this, claiming his team probably needs multiple goals to advance. It sounds like a difficult task, but nine times this season, a team has gone into the Bernabeu and scored more than once. The problem: No club other than Barcelona has scored a second that’s served as an equalizer or winner. The rest of the goals have been consolations or so early as to be crafted under little pressure.
In 27 home matches, Real’s been shut out once (two Sundays past, against Valencia). Three other times they’ve been held to one, but 21 times, Real Madrid has scored at least three goals.
With that in mind, Heynckes may be right. If Real gets their customary three, Bayern goes through with two. More than three (which has happened 16 times at the Bernabeu)? Bayern may be hoping for too much.
It all hints at something that’s been missing in the postmortem of last week’s loss. As much as people want to talk about how good Bayern looked and the vulnerability of Real Madrid, few have acknowledged that not only are theBlancos a much more potent team on the road, they weren’t playing like their normal selves last week. The tactic employed at the Allianz will not be the same as that the ones which hasvegenerated nearly four goals per game at home in La Liga. Analyzing Real Madrid as if they’re going to play so conservatively is a mistake.
The same aggression with which Real Madrid approached Saturday’s match in Barcelona will be seen on Wednesday, but with Bayern Munich incapable of hogging as much of the ball, we’ll see constant pressure from Mourinho’s side. Unless Bayern central defenders Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber play the games of their lives (certainly a possibility), the second leg won’t be about whether Bayern can hold out. As Heynckes predicts, it will be about whether Bayern can score goals. Given it took a Fabio Coentrão mistake to get them their second at home, FCB’s probably more of an underdog than we’ve been led to believe.
And despite many critics taking the rosiest, most pro-Bayern view a possible of last week’s result, most people will be pulling for Real Madrid on Wednesday. They’re the bullies, the pedigree – the Yankees, Cowboys, and Lakers, if the Yankees, Cowboys, and Lakers trolled the world for talent while erecting theme parks in the Middle East – yet we’re still ready to give them one more win if it means José Mourinho and Chelsea will meet in a winner-take-all with Madrid’s decima, Chelsea’s primera on the line.
We’re willing to look at the underdog with a chance to play at home for a title - a title that would finally go outside the perceived big three leagues – and say” ‘We’d rather see José.’
Oh, what a strange world Chelsea’s win has left us.
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