By now, enough has been said about how well Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid played in the semifinals of the Champions League, but what happened to Chelsea and Bayern Munich? The finalists of the 2011/2012 edition were the clear favorites in both their matchups, but the two Spanish teams crumbled their dreams.
Much of the fury of the fans will come down on their head coaches, Mourinho and Guardiola, who although boast completely opposite styles, find themselves in the same dreaded situation. Here are five reasons why their teams will watch the Champions League final on their TV sets:
1. Methods and philosophies are not transferable
Pep and Mourinho both applied their world renown tactics, which so well worked for them previously at Chelsea or Inter Milan –for the Portuguese– and at Barça, for Pep, in their matchups for the semifinal of the Champions League; yet their methods did not work.
Their lack of empathy with their own squads was most obvious on the return matches, when they both played at home and had a chance to utilize their best man trying to make it to the final.
However, both managers decided to change things up in order to adapt the players to their pre-determined styles, rather than letting their best men do what they know: play and win games.
2. Oscar and Gotze: Missing in action
Along the lines of the first point. When you have Oscar on the bench and decide to play with Azpilicueta as a right mid, things are bound to go bad. By the same token, if you have Gotze on your side and you only give him 40 minutes out of 180 to play against Real Madrid, you cant expect much magic to happen.
It would be unfair to boil things down to just one name per team, but the truth is both managers decided to forego their best players in order to get the men they thought more appropriate for their own style. And they both lost, of course.
3. Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid surprised them
Ancelotti and Simeone didnt try anything fancy against Bayern Munich and Chelsea, respectively, yet both managers of the Spanish sides were able to surprise their opponents.
How? Simply wanting it more. Bayern and Chelsea seemed to be performing a military exercise based on following their managers instructions to the tee.
However, both Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid showed fight against their rivals, and had that extra oomph –call it guts, call it what you may – that made them become way more solid teams than Bayern Munich and Chelsea, respectively.
Overconfidence in their own styles actually allowed both Chelsea and Bayern Munich to be surprised by the now Champions League finalists.
4. Cech missed the return match. Courtois was superb. Schwarzer could have done more.
In Chelsea vs Atleticos matchup, the goalkeepers were key. After Cechs injured his shoulder in the first leg, Mark Schwarzer was given the chance to shine, but he is obviously not ready for prime time –perhaps he never was.
At 41 and out of competitive traction all year, the Australian didnt quite give up any easy goals, but he didnt do anything spectacular, which is something Petr Cech usually does.
On the side, Courtois was simply superb. He is by far the goal keeper of the year, and it will be tough for Atletico Madrid to convince Chelsea they should loan him again next season; even more so if Cech is not fit to play at the beginning of the year.
5. Sergio Ramos took his revenge, with Guardiola and Bayern Munich
There are always external factors, and if Courtois was key in order for Chelsea to miss out on making it to the final, then of course we need to talk about Sergio Ramos.
His performance in Munich was out of this world, and with it Ramos –if he wasnt already– became one of the legendary players of Real Madrid.
Pep expected a match in which Bayern would send a million balls into the Merengues box, in order to come back from Bernabeus 1-0 defeat. Ultimately, it wasnt the case, but had it been, Ramos would have most likely cleared all of them.
Not only that, but he also scored two headers in the first 25 minutes, and at that point, Guardiola could do nothing more than sit back and enjoy the show.
Ramos had missed the final penalty kick against Bayern Munich two years ago in the same round of the Champions League, and he had also gotten a red card in the mythical 5-0 defeat the Whites suffered against Peps Barcelona. This time, Sergio Ramos got payback.