Three things we learned from Real Madrid’s mauling of Bayern Munich

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Following Real Madrid’s spanking of Bayern Munich on Tuesday night at the Allianz Arena, the reigning champions were dumped out of the UEFA Champions League at the semifinal stage.

Bayern were beaten heavily, as Pep Guardiola’s men rolled over against Real who finally made it to their first UCL final since 2002 after being knocked out at the semifinal stage during the last three seasons. The men from Madrid were long overdue.

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Real tore Bayern apart with three goals in the first 30 minutes putting the Spanish giants 4-0 ahead on aggregate… that was the way it remained until the last two minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo scored his second and Real’s fourth to make it 5-0 to the Spanish giants on aggregate. You read that right. Real shut up shop to thwart the German side, as Bayern had over 60 percent of the possession on the night but that counted for nothing as the tiki-taka approach was ambushed by Real’s pacey and incisive attacks.

So, everyone’s favorites are out and Real are heading to Lisbon on May 24 for the UCL final. Here are three things that stood out in a clinical mauling, as one European powerhouse battered another.

Sergio Ramos and Pepe prevail

Within the first 20 minutes of Real Madrid’s win over Bayern, Sergio Ramos became the first defender to head home two goals in a UCL semifinal.  The Spaniard rose like a salmon above Dante on the first, then nipped in ahead of Mario Mandzukic on the second. That knocked the stuffing out of Bayern, who knew they must score four goals to go through. That soon became five after a devastating counter-attack between Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale (more on that soon) finished off the Bavarians in the first half. Try as they might Bayern couldn’t get back into the game as Ramos did his main job at the other end of the pitch superbly. Alongside Pepe, Real Madrid’s central defensive duo bossed Mandzukic as they headed and cleared away every dangerous ball that Bayern flung into the box. Carlo Ancelotti’s Real has a solid foundation about them this season, they have only conceded nine goals and have kept five clean sheets in their 12 UCL games. Everyone marvels about the attacking talents of Real, and rightly so, yet when Real raced through the door towards the Champions League final in Lisbon on May 24 thanks to their forwards, Pepe and Ramos made sure it slammed shut in Bayern’s face and there was no chance of a crazy comeback.

 

source: AP
Real’s central defensive duo battered Bayern at both ends of the pitch.

Substance over style: the end of tiki-taka?

Talking of comebacks, Spain put their pain behind them (well, Real did) last season after both Real and Barcelona were destroyed by German sides Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund at the semifinal stage. Tearing Bayern apart on the counter-attack, Real used their solid defensive foundation wonderfully well on Tuesday. Soaking up Bayern pressure then hitting the German giants where it hurt, Real have now scored 36 goals and counting in this season’s Champions League. That is 11 more than their nearest rivals, Paris Saint-Germain, who were knocked out at the quarterfinal stage. When I say substance over style prevailing, I mean that instead of passing it for the sake of it, Real just went for goal. Pace, direct play and precision prevailed as Real broke time and time again to smash Bayern into submission. Ronaldo and Bale were just too good. Every time a ball was hooked out of defense, it seemed like a magnet was inserted into Karim Benzema’s foot as the Frenchman held the ball up, laid it back to Luka Modric or Xabi Alonso, who then clipped it forward to Bale or Ronaldo to turn on the afterburners. Sometimes, soccer is a simple game. Defend, hold the ball up, clip it in the channels and get speedy wingers on the end of it. Does this mark something more significant though? Direct soccer seems to be overtaking the tiki-taka approach, as Guardiola’s possession obsession bared no fruit against Real and their water-tight defense.

Bayern’s frail defense finally exposed

Bayern have only won four of their last 10 games in the last month since they won the Bundesliga title, as the reigning champions have eased into the final few months of the season. That showed on Tuesday as Bayern’s defense were slow, sluggish and something which has been brewing for a while happened: Munich’s defensive frailties were mercifully exposed. Brazilian central defender Dante is good on the ball and decent in the air, but he switched off for the first two goals and was caught by Bale and Ronaldo’s pace for the third. He earned himself a new contract earlier this year after being linked to Manchester United… looks like the Red Devils have dodged a bullet there. Speaking of United, Dante was unable to cope with the pace of Danny Welbeck in their quarterfinal win and Bale and Ronaldo tore him apart in the semis. Bayern’s defense just couldn’t handle the direct play of Real, as you could see in previous UCL games that the German champions were easily exposed by long balls over the top as Dante and Jerome Boateng struggle when being turned around and defending with their back to the play. After tasting defeat despite dominating possession over both legs, will Guardiola alter his style next season to get Bayern back to the summit of European soccer? He may have to, otherwise his defense will be exposed to pacey attackers who can make tiki-taka look lackadaisical and lackluster once more. A changing of the guard is occurring again in European soccer. Spanish pace, not German possession, rules the UCL this season.

Newcastle’s Bruce: Handball rule ‘nonsense’ hurting the game

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Given most of the words coming out of Steve Bruce’s mouth, you would’ve thought the penalty given late in a 1-1 draw between Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United hurt his side.

But Bruce did not mince words when asked about VAR awarding Newcastle a stoppage-time penalty for Andy Carroll’s late header onto the back of Eric Dier’s arm that allowed Callum Wilson to take a point for the Magpies at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

[ MORE: Match recap | Mourinho reacts ]

In fact, toss in the penalty given against Crystal Palace’s Joel Ward on Saturday and Bruce thinks the managers should approach the Premier League and demand change.

“I can understand why Spurs are going to go berserk and the way Roy Hodgson reacted yesterday,” Bruce said after the game. “It’s a total nonsense. Look we got one today and we should be jumping for joy and through hoops but I’d be devastated if it was against us. The handball rule has been around for years but the decisions are, for me, ruining the spectacles. It’s great for me today but I think we have to get together as the managers, coaches and go to the Premier League and say it must stop.”‘

What will the Premier League do about the rule and how VAR interprets it? Stay tuned…

Newcastle moves to 1-1-1 on the season to match Spurs but the Magpies did little to deserve the point aside from Karl Darlow’s 11-save day between the sticks.

It was Newcastle’s first penalty conversion after missing the only one awarded to them in 2019-20 and two of three in 2018-19.

Mourinho: Spurs’ Son out ‘a while’; Comments on VAR controversy

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Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho was enraged as VAR and FIFA’s odd handball rule conspired with a magnificent performance from Newcastle’s backup goalkeeper to take points away from Spurs in stoppage time on Sunday.

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce wasn’t too happy either, calling it “a total nonsense” despite the decision helping his Magpies to a point.

[ RECAP: Spurs 1-1 Newcastle ]

Spurs dominated but only Lucas Moura found a way past Newcastle’s Karl Darlow on an 11-save day at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

That looked like it would be enough until Newcastle’s Andy Carroll nodded a free kick onto the arm of Eric Dier, who was not facing the play, and Callum Wilson smashed home the spot kick.

“I can understand why Spurs are going to go berserk and the way Roy Hodgson reacted yesterday,” Bruce said after the game. “It’s a total nonsense.”

Mourinho tried not to comment too much on the incident except to imply that Spurs get worse calls in their 18 than other teams.

“Every box is 18-yard box but we know that the Tottenham box is a special box so we managed to keep them a-ways away,” he said. “And we had that situation where we lost two points but I’m not going to comment.”

Mourinho refused to be drawn into the handball discussion on television after the game, giving praise to his team and wishing not earn a fine.

“I don’t want to speak about it. If I want to give some money away, I give to charities. I don’t want to give to the FA,” he said.

“I think about my team performance. Very good. First half, amazing. Should be three-, four-nil easy but Darlow was fantastic. We hit the post and they managed to survive. In the second half we kept control and kept them from the box.”

Mourinho also said that star forward Heung-min Son will miss “a while” with a hamstring injury, as the rain is pouring down on North London.

Son has been wonderful this season and was in a particularly rich vein of form after scoring four times last weekend and starring in Thursday’s Europa League win in Macedonia.

Gareth Bale will hope to heal even quicker now.

Newcastle backup GK Darlow, VAR steal point from wasteful Spurs

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Tottenham – Newcastle United: Karl Darlow helped Newcastle United stick around and VAR helped them go level as the Magpies committed larceny in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in North London on Sunday.

Darlow made 11 saves, seven of which came from shots inside the box as Spurs out-attempted Newcastle 23-6.

[ MORE: Mourinho livid | Bruce, too! ]

The visitors got a penalty off an unknowing Eric Dier handball and Callum Wilson beat Hugo Lloris deep in stoppage time to earn a point and move Newcastle and Spurs to 1-1-1 on the season.

Lucas Moura put Spurs ahead but they could not find a second goal following a 10-day span which saw them play in Bulgaria and Macedonia.

Tottenham lost Heung-min Son to a hamstring injury and Jose Mourinho said the South Korean will be “out a while.”

Newcastle beat Spurs 1-0 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium last season, as Steve Bruce has now taken points from Mauricio Pochettino and Mourinho.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  


Three things we learned: Tottenham – Newcastle United

1. What travel? Spurs have played matches in England, Bulgaria, and Macedonia over the last 10 days, so a sluggish start might’ve been expected in North London. Instead, Jose Mourinho’s men raged out of the gates and could’ve been up 4-0 inside of a half-hour if not for Karl Darlow’s success in limiting the damage to one.

2. Oh, that travel: Spurs’ second half was significantly lackluster and Newcastle stuck around albeit with a distinct lack of threat. Introductions of Jamal Lewis, Jacob Murphy, and Andy Carroll ultimately did affect the game as the big Geordie’s header went off Dier’s arm for the equalizing penalty.

3. VAR has its new storyline: If you thought changes to the handball rule had straightened-out any controversy with VAR, you were sorely mistaken. Eric Dier had an Andy Carroll header hit the back of his splayed arm. VAR asked the head referee to go to the television screen after the play was ruled onside despite challenging visual evidence, and he gave the penalty to Newcastle for 1-1.

Man of the Match

Darlow. Spurs were credited with four big chances (SofaScore) and scored once to go with 11 saves for Martin Dubravka’s backup.


Tottenham – Newcastle United recap

Karl Darlow made two quick stops in a solid defiance of a Tottenham free kick from Giovani Lo Celso and a rebound effort from Harry Kane, then stymying a point-blank Harry Kane header.

Moura gave Spurs a deserved lead in the 25th as Kane slid a cross through the six and Newcastle’s backs were nowhere to be found.

Matt Ritchie was at the back post for that Spurs goal and was slow to react on what became a 2v1 chance broken up by Jamaal Lascelles.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Son that rattled the bar in the 42nd as Tottenham seemed well on its way to a blowout win but could not find the second marker.

Newcastle’s only real danger came on a Jonjo Shelvey volley that missed the far post in first-half stoppage. Would it be a cakewalk? Kinda-sorta.

Newcastle was wrongly-awarded a corner kick that ended with Joelinton ripping wide of the far post but the Magpies mostly struggled to manufacture danger despite Spurs growing weary in the second 45.

That’s when the late penalty call came via VAR. Dier dodged one late handball in the box but not a second in a call that will increase the attention paid to the handball.

Man City – Leicester: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Man City – Leicester: Pep Guardiola will have just 13 first-team players at his disposal when Manchester City hosts Leicester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30 am ET, on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

MAN CITY – LEICESTER STREAM LIVE

With a combination of injuries and confirmed cases of COVID-19 currently ravaging an already-thin squad, City have no choice but to tread water and simply stay afloat in the coming days and weeks as they attempt to reclaim the Premier League title from Liverpool. It’s a difficult position to be in, no doubt about it, and Leicester should present a tricky challenge for Guardiola and Co., without the likes of Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero and Ilkay Gundogan, among others.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Man City and Leicester spent much of the 2019-20 season second and third — and third and second — in the PL table, each looking up at Liverpool miles and miles ahead, before winding up second and fifth, respectively. City won each of the two meetings last season — 3-1 at home in December, and 1-0 away in February.

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Man City – Leicester this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Man City – Leicester (INJURY REPORT)

Aymeric Laporte makes the bench for City and Oleksandr Zinchenko is available but Bernardo Silva (thigh), Gabriel Jesus (undisclosed), Sergio Aguero (knee), and Joao Cancelo (foot) are out.

James Maddison is on the bench for Leicester City.


What they’re saying: Man City – Leicester

Pep Guardiola, on Man City’s injury issues: “With the situation we have right now, we need players from the academy. We have just 13 players fit. With the problems we have up front, he will stay with us. We will use him. We cannot forget, like with Phil, he is only 17 years-old. He has a lot of things to improve. We cannot anticipate the progress of every young player. We’ve had Phil, Eric, Liam and we have Cole Palmer, who will be an exceptional player. We congratulate the academy. I am the last step, but before there are a lot of people in the club working for this and it is a big success for them.”

Brendan Rodgers, on how to improve Leicester: “Firstly, we have a number of young players who can improve. Last season, we showed lots of real potential in the squad. I always felt that two things would help us to improve and continue to develop this process. One of those was time. That means time to work with the players who are here, making them better year on year, particularly the young players. They will have gained from the experiences of last season — good and bad. Time will improve James Maddison. Time will improve Harvey Barnes. Consistency will make us better as well. That will come with the introduction of quality.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Perhaps a bit surprisingly given their ongoing injury issues, City (-350) are heavy betting favorites with Leicester checking in as massive underdogs at +850. The draw (+480) might just make for the perfect speculative wager this weekend.

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Prediction: Man City – Leicester

City struggled to put away Bournemouth in the League Cup on Thursday, and will have largely the same group of players available on Sunday. Facing Leicester will be a significant increase in quality of opposition. Leicester might just get something out of this one and do Liverpool an early-season favor in the process. Man City 1-1 Leicester.


How to watch Man City – Leicester stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com