Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Barcelona, Real Madrid Both Ousted in UCL Semifinals

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The Champions League Final that everyone thought we'd see isn't going to happen. Barcelona and Real Madrid both blew leads in the second leg of their semifinal matches and were eliminated by Chelsea and Bayern Munich respectively. After dropping the opener 1-0, Barcelona jumped out to a 2-0 lead against 10-man Chelsea who had lost one starting center back (Gary Cahill) to injury and another (John Terry) to ejection. But Barcelona conceded a first half stoppage time goal to Ramires, and then saw Lionel Messi strike the bar on a second half penalty and then hit the post a second time from the run of play, and then finally had any last hopes crushed when the much-maligned Spaniard Fernando Torres scored in the 90th minute to clinch the win for Chelsea. Despite 80% possession and over 650 completed passes in the match, Barcelona was unable to produce a third goal and as a result won't be defending their title in Munich next month.

Real Madrid similarly overcame a 1-goal aggregate deficit by jumping out to a 2-0 lead in their second leg match against Bayern Munich on a pair of goals by Cristiano Ronaldo, but Arjen Robben knotted the aggregate score at 3 with a first half penalty kick. The match would go to extra time with neither side scoring again setting up a shootout. Bayern Munich and German National Team Keeper Manuel Neuer denied both Ronaldo and Kaka, and Sergio Ramos skied his attempt over the bar setting up the eventual game winner from Bastian Schweinsteiger and sending Bayern Munich through to the Finals.

With the Finals in Munich this year and with Chelsea to be without suspended players Terry, Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic and Raul Meireles, you'd have to think the Final favors the German side. But then again, most people never thought either of these teams would even be here, so you just never know. The Champions League Final will be played on May 19th. 

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