European champions Real Madrid will participate in their fourth Champions League final in five years in Kiev at the end of the month after seeing off German giants Bayern Munich.
The German side headed into this clash as underdogs due to Real Madrid’s stellar home record in the competition. However, the Bavarian giants experienced the dream start on three minutes, as youngster Joshua Kimmich gave the visitors the lead from close-range.
However, Los Blancos were level on 11 minutes. Marcelo fired a cross to the far post and French striker Karim Benzema headed home. Bayern should have regained the lead in the first half, but on-loan Real Madrid star James Rodriguez volleyed off target when well place.
The home side struck next though in bizarre fashion. Thiago Alcantara played a seemingly simple back pass to goalkeeper Sven Ulreich, only for the stopper to lose concentration and allow the ball to slip past him to Benzema who tapped into an empty net.
Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas was then called into action as he produced a superb save from a deflected David Alaba effort. At the other end of the pitch, Cristiano Ronaldo also volleyed over the bar from close-range.
Bayern was seemingly back in the tie just beyond the hour mark. James found space from a Niklas Sule cross and the made no mistake from ten yards out. Understandably, Real loan star did not celebrate, instead putting up his hands in an apologetic gesture to the Bernabeu fans.
The visitors then really pushed for a third goal that would have seen them through to the final. Real Madrid ‘keeper Keylor Navas had to be alive to produce a fingertip save from a Corentin Tolisso half-volley. The Costa Rican number one also kept out a far post header from Thomas Muller, who could not believe he had failed to score.
Favourites for the final
The European champions will now face either Liverpool or Roma in the Champions League final in Kiev. The pair meets this evening at the Stadio Olimpico, with Liverpool carrying a 5-2 lead from the first leg at Anfield.
Real Madrid are currently favourites to lift the trophy on the 26st May. The final will be Real Madrid’s 16th European Cup final and their third in the last four years. It is worth noting that the men from Madrid won all three of those finals.
Zinedine Zidane’s team does have the know-how to lift the trophy, as they have shown in the past in the competition. Their previous experience in the final will no doubt prove invaluable in this year’s final.
Having watched this semi-final clash, prospective opponents Liverpool and Roma will both feel that they would have a chance against the Spanish side in a one-off game. However, history has told us never to write off Zidane’s men, as there is no team in European football at just doing enough to win games and trophies.
Will Real Madrid become European champions for the third time in four years in Kiev?