Real Madrid show their class as two goals in a minute from Ronaldo and Ozil paved way for a comfortable victory for Los Galacticos.
Much has been said about Real Madrid’s inability to win crucial games against big European clubs in the Champions League. It was time to put Los Galacticos to that old litmus test again as the Spanish club hosted 7 time European champions AC Milan in the biggest clash of this season thus far.
Jose Mourinho was under immense pressure to deliver, especially after what transpired last year when these two clubs had met at the Santiago Bernabeu. Milan had come from being a goal down to ultimately win 3-2. Mourinho would have to come up with a master plan to topple Milan with the youngsters at his disposal. Expectations were high in Italy too, as Berlusconi’s club eagerly looked forward to unleashing the might of their deadly upfront triumvirate of Ibrahimovic-Ronaldinho-Pato.
Got his tactics spot on
At the end of the clash, however, Madrid had thoroughly dismantled a Milan side devoid of any potency, winning comfortably by a margin of 2-0.
Outplayed is an Understatement
In retrospect, what happened in Madrid was not very surprising considering the way the two teams lined-up. The Rossoneri’s forward line was to be its chief strength, while the “real” (pun intended) gulf in talent between the two sides would lie in the midfield and at the back.
Even for your average pundit, predicting the result would not have been too hard, once Milan started with Seedorf, alongside relative veterans Pirlo and Gattuso. Madrid on the other hand had the likes of Ozil, Khedira, Di Maria and Ronaldo all in the prime. Throughout their season, the Rossoneri have struggled to deal with even pedestrian outfits breaking through their midfield ranks. Choosing to field a similar formation against quite possibly the best team in the world, the Rossoneri had no one but themselves to blame.
Jose’s men started the more threatening of the two sides and it paid dividends in the 13th minute when Pato challenged Xabi Alonso just outside the box. It didn’t exactly look ominous for the Italian side as Ronaldo came up to take the free kick, considering his recent penchant to hit the wall a good 8 times out of 10.
Involved in both goals
It was on target, yet again to hit the wall but somehow this time around the result would be different. Ronaldo miraculously found space between Ibrahimovic and Seedorf taking evasive action and a flailing Amelia came nowhere close to saving the ball. Even before Milan could shake off the effects of that goal, they were dealt another shocker.
In the very next minute, Ronaldo again found space on the left and flicked the ball to Ozil who decided to smash the ball right into the ground. It turned out to be a good decision, despite having to deal with three Milan defenders were guarding the goal. The ball looped up and caught Bonera unaware, took a big deflection and doubled Madrid’s advantage even before the aged Rossoneri even realized what was happening.
Hoping against Hope
Being 2-0 down, Milan would have hoped to come back sooner than later and in the 29th minute they almost did. Pirlo made Cassilas stretch to keep out an awesome 20 yard free kick. Ronaldinho was clearly not at his best but did have the foresight to create something out of nothing. He found Seedorf unmarked in the 36th minute and chipped a delightful ball across the box. Seedorf, however, could not maintain his balance and sent the ball on its way over the bar.
Ibrahimovic and Pato looked helpless for the most part and Pirlo received little support from Rino and Seedorf. Madrid, meanwhile, were in no mood to rest on their laurels and continued to push forward with waves of attacks led by Ronaldo, Ozil and Di Maria.
Nesta was easily undone by the silver-footed De Maria and had troubles dealing with the impressive Ozil. The absence of Thiago Silva did not help Milan’s defensive department either. On a luckier day Madrid may easily have scored half-a-dozen goals. Such was the intensity and flair on display by the Galacticos that Milan gave up fighting for the ball outside their own box. Max Allegri had conceded the tactical battle to his counterpart, without even an attempt.
Tactical Blunders Haunt Again
This Clash of the Titans was Allegri’s biggest match with Milan so far and yet the preparation betrayed an unforgivable sense of complacency. Allegri decided to start with his aging stars against Chievo earlier this week, with all indications pointing to the rested Boateng being selected for the clash with Madrid. That was not to be, as the Rossoneri’s aging legs took the field yet again; coupled with a lack of rest, Milan were lucky not to have been mauled even worse by the Spanish giants.
Trio could not break a sound Madrid defence
Boateng, who had impressed against Chievo as a substitute, made a massive difference after being brought on at Bernabeu as well. It’s conceivable that had Boateng started the game, Milan may well have achieved a better result.
Ibrahimovic’s struggle with stomach cramps took its toll on the lanky striker, and the decision to leave Robinho for so late in the game backfired terribly. He had the best shot on goal in the second half and taking off Ronaldinho for his fellow countryman would not have hurt in the least.
TheHardTackle’s Player of the Match
Cristiano Ronaldo( Real Madrid)
It was a great display of attacking football at the Bernabeu and the relatively young Madrid side was led admirably by Ronaldo. He was relentless in hammering Milan and they found it hard to deal with the Portuguese livewire. He scored the first goal courtesy a free kick and provided the assist to Ozil for Madrid’s second.
Real Madrid AC Milan
Iker Casillas Marco Amelia
Ricardo Carvalho Daniele Bonera
Pepe Alessandro Nesta
Marcelo Luca Antonini
Álvaro Arbeloa Gianluca Zambrotta
Sami Khedira Andrea Pirlo
Xabi Alonso Clarence Seedorf
Gonzalo Higuaín(Benzema ’89) Gennaro Gattuso(Boateng ’59)
Mesut Ozil(Diarra ’83) Ronaldinho(Robinho ’72)
Cristiano Ronaldo Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Ángel Di María(Granero ’87) Pato(Inzaghi ’78)
Cristiano Ronaldo (‘13)
Mesut Ozil (‘14)
Ángel Di María (81), Daniele Bonera (73), Kevin-Prince Boateng (76), Luca Antonini (80)