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Ramos heads Madrid into Champions League 2014 final

Ramos heads home
Ramos heads homePhoto by Adam Pretty

Today Spanish Football's Real Madrid defeated hosts Bayern Munich in the second and deciding leg of their Champions League 2014 semifinals by 4-0, at Allianz Arena, in Munich, Germany.

The teams were at equal strength and playing their respective strongest line-ups. Madrid was going to play as they did at home, defending with a double line of four and countering as often as possible. Munich was going to go all-out on attack and defend with its line of four and with Manuel Neuer as far forward as possible.

With Real arriving with a 1-0 first leg advantage, Bayern and their coach, Pep Guardiola, were looking to keep a clean sheet while scoring two goals to move on. But Sergio Ramos had other ideas.

At the 16th minute the Madrid central defender found himself in the middle of the box making full and strong contact with Luka Modric's corner kick for the opening goal of the game. The German team had possessed the ball for over 60% of the game at that point, but only three Spanish counter attacks had caused any danger.

The goal seemed to immediately surprise and annoy the Bayern players who began to show their frustration with very rough play. Several fouls ensued in a short period. Then, at the 17th minute Munich's Brazilian defender, Dante, purposely stepped on Cristiano Ronaldo's right ankle and the Portuguese striker needed attention and time to get back into the match.

But Ramos, again, had the only needed response.

At the 20th minute, another Bayern foul found Angel di Maria taking the free kick from the right side of the Germans' goal. He curled a perfect cross into the middle of the box, and as two defenders double-teamed Ronaldo, Ramos was left to lunge at the ball and head in his second goal. Real 2, Bayern 0, and the tide of possession was beginning to ebb, if only slightly.

The game continued with the same possession and counter rhythm but the play got rugged with the likes of Franck Ribery slapping Daniel Carbajal during a corner, and Mario Mandzukic knocking di Maria when no play was occurring anywhere near the pair.

At the 34th minute a patented Real Madrid counter attack resulted in a great goal, Ronaldo's record 15th in the Champions League. The Spaniards intercepted another Bayern attack and di Maria whirled and sent a long pass to Karim Benzema who found Gareth Bale in stride with another great pass. Bale held for a few sprinted yards before laying off to an unmarked Ronaldo who kicked low and to Neuer's right. The Bayern keeper got a hand on it but was unable to stop the ball from finding the net. Real now had a 3-0 advantage and Bayern would need to score five to win the tie.

At the 38th minute Xabi Alonso had enough of the pushing and fouling and unfortunately decided to get even with Bastian Schweinsteiger, and his harsh tackle resulted in a yellow and he will thus miss the finals, should Madrid make it.

The teams reached the half time mark and went into the locker room with that 3-0 score.

The second half was a copy of the first with Real having the more dangerous plays if Bayern actually increased its efficiency and put Real goalie, Iker Casillas, under some pressure.

At the 90th minute Ronaldo put his stamp on the game with his brace and record 16th goal in the Champions League. A free kick on the left of the half moon saw the Portuguese striker roll the ball to Neuer's right instead of taking a patented boomer.

Madrid is in the Champions League 2014 final, 5-0 on aggregate, and awaits either their neighbors Atletico Madrid or their former coach Jose Mourinho's Chelsea.

Before the game Acelotti was interviewed about tactics for this game and his response was: "At this stage in the competition the psychological aspect is more important than tactics." He was right, Madrid played as if they had the answer to the riddle, Bayern played like they were still looking for it.