A brilliant away goal from Antoine Griezmann made sure that Bayern Munich were once again knocked out in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have made a habit of upsetting the odds over the past few years, and their Champions League campaign this season has been no different. Atleti knocked out one of the tournament’s favourites in Barcelona in the quarter-finals and have now followed it up with dumping out another in Bayern Munich.
An edge-of-the-seat thriller at the Allianz Arena came to an end with the scoreline 2-1 in favour of the hosts, but the away goal by Antoine Griezmann meant that Atletico went through on away goals.
Los Rojiblancos are now set for a historic final in Milan, where they could face either arch-rivals Real Madrid or Premier League giants Manchester City. For Bayern, it’s back to the drawing board until next season, when they will be led by three-time winner Carlo Ancelotti.
1. Manuel Neuer – 7/10
The sweeper keeper didn’t have as much to deal with as his opposite number. His save from a Fernando Torres penalty helped keep the match alive till the very end.
21. Philipp Lahm – 7/10
The Bayern captain was more of an attacker than a defender in this game and contributed to a lot of the attacking play.
17. Jerome Boateng – 7/10
The German defender of Ghanian descent played his first full match since December and looked steady at the heart of defence, but could have done better to prevent the Griezmann goal.
8. Javi Martinez – 7/10
He was involved in both the penalty decisions, winning one for the Bavarians and also conceding one because of a tackle on Fernando Torres, which upon later viewing proved to be outside the box.
27. David Alaba 7.5/10
Played a vital role for Bayern, spraying the ball from the back as well as sending in some good crosses, one of which led to the Lewandowski goal.
14. Xabi Alonso – 8/10
Scored the opening goal of the match. The dead ball specialist was a constant threat from distance and also excelled as an advanced playmaker in midfield.
23. Arturo Vidal – 8/10
Yet another imperious display from the Chilean midfielder. His header set up Lewandowski and he looked to be everywhere on the pitch as he dominated midfield.
7. Franck Ribery – 6/10
The Frenchman put in a lukewarm performance, showing some attacking intent but failing to have much of an impact on the game.
11. Douglas Costa – 6/10
A forgettable game for the Brazilian on the right wing, as he was replaced by Kingsley Coman to good effect.
9. Robert Lewandowski – 8/10
The Poland international managed to score in the second half to keep Bayern in the game and could have added to his tally had the Atletico defence given him an inch.
25. Thomas Muller – 6/10
An anonymous performance by the German forward — the highlight being a missed penalty that could have completely changed the complexion of the match.
29. Kingsley Coman – 7/10
Saw plenty of the ball during his cameo appearance, but could not repeat his round of 16 heroics against Juventus this time.
13. Jan Oblak – 8/10
The Slovenian doesn’t usually concede two goals in a match, but he made up for it by holding his ground even as the goal was bombarded by Bayern. Saved Thomas Muller’s penalty and was the man of the match for Atletico.
20. Juanfran – 7/10
Another solid display by the Spanish right-back whose positioning and covering was excellent as he diligently fulfilled his defensive duties.
24. Jose Gimenez – 6/10
Let the Bayern pressure get to him on occasion. His deflection led to Alonso’s goal and he also conceded a penalty which was saved by Oblak.
2. Diego Godin – 7.5/10
The Uruguayan has been the best defender in the Champions League this season and was once again a rock in the defence as Atletico held strong against the Bayern onslaught.
3. Filipe Luis – 7/10
The former Chelsea man looked sure and confident and made some excellent tackles during the match. Could have done better for Bayern’s second goal.
17. Saul – 7/10
His magical first-leg goal set the precedent for this encounter, but the youngster couldn’t provide much attacking flair this time around. Was very solid in his defensive duties.
12. Augusto Fernandez – 6/10
A poor display by the midfielder led to him being taken off at the half-time interval. Was careless in possession and conceded the free kick which led to the Alonso goal.
14. Gabi – 7/10
Acted as a very important midfield leader. He helped maintain the strong defensive structure that make Atletico seem impregnable.
7. Antoine Griezmann – 8/10
The Champions League hero for Atletico once again found a goal when it really mattered, scoring a brilliant individual effort past Manuel Neuer to give Atletico the much needed away goal.
9. Fernando Torres – 7/10
Assisted Griezmann for his crucial goal, but also missed a penalty that could have eased the pressure off Atletico. The Spaniard continues to be an important attacking player and could live his dream of winning the Champions League with his boyhood club.
21. Yannick Carrasco – 7/10
Replaced the misfiring Augusto at half time. He did a wonderful job holding up the ball ahead of the defence and providing some much needed relief to the back line.
Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone was a live-wire on the sidelines throughout the game. But the usually volatile Argentine manager could afford to be gracious in defeat, given the circumstances, admitting that this Bayern Munich team could well be the best that he has come up against.
“It was unbelievable how they played,” said Simeone, according to the Guardian.
“It was great to see such intensity. I was literally in love with this game. But we soaked up the pressure and we won the game. We coped with the pressure that they put on us. It’s just unbelievable what we have achieved. We have beaten two of the strongest teams in Europe – first Barcelona in the quarter-final and now Bayern.”
For Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola, this was his final hurrah. His impending exit for Manchester City means that he will not have the chance to win the Champions League with Bayern in the near future. A three-year tenure marked by domination in the Bundesliga has been a disappointment in Europe.
“Titles are just numbers, statistics,” said Guardiola.
“I wanted to reach the Champions League final here and I didn’t achieve it but it doesn’t change my opinion about the way I have performed. Yes, we are sad now and we want to go to Ingolstadt [on Saturday] to secure the Bundesliga title.”
The Spaniard also bowed out saying that he was happy with his achievements at Bayern.
“I have given my life for this club, from the first minute to the last and we played well tonight. Maybe we played not so well at other times. I am very proud. It was a real honour to train these players. I have really enjoyed it here and I am sure the future at Bayern Munich is perfect with these players.”
Atletico’s future secured, Bayern Munich king makers of the past two seasons
Atletico Madrid may have had a slow start to the season, but they have announced themselves as European heavyweights in this latter half of the season. After coming through a relatively easy Champions League group and making hard work of Dutch minnows PSV Eindhoven in the Round of 16, Atletico stood up when it really mattered.
Los Rojiblancos first dumped favourites and defending champions Barcelona out in the quarter-finals, and now they’ve done the same with Bayern Munich. The final in Milan awaits and they could come up against familiar foes Real Madrid in a repeat of the 2013-14 finals, or against Aguero and co. from Manchester City.
For Bayern Munich this is the end of an era of sorts. Pep Guardiola arrived at Munich three years ago to take over a treble winning side. Although he has been credited with morphing Bayern into a fluid and aggressive force, his European achievements aren’t quite as impressive as many were expecting. The Bavarians reached three semi-finals under Guardiola, only to be knocked out by La Liga giants who went on to win it all.
Real Madrid and Barcelona won the title after defeating Bayern in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 semi-final respectively, and now Atletico Madrid head to the final as strong contenders to win their first ever Champions League trophy.