Survived Bernabeu, made it to Wembley
Tuesday, April 30th, 2013 will be the day always remembered for Borussia Dortmund advancing to the Final of the Champions League 2012/2013. However, nobody will remember the day for the loss against Real Madrid though. Maybe the last fifteen minutes of the match will stay in the minds of the Borussian supporters for the apprehension of the third goal, but in the end, the loss and the last minutes don't matter. Borussia survived the Bernabéu, survived Real Madrid and is one of the two finalists in this year's Champions League. Even two days later, it still sounds unreal but equally awesome and legendary.
And indeed it is just that. It is plain awesome how this team stormed through this year's Champions League. Remember when the groups were drawn and nobody expected Dortmund to advance to the next round? Well, Borussia eliminated Manchester City and Ajax Amsterdam and even managed to win the so-called group of death. Remember the next tough challenge in Donetsk when Borussia equalized twice against Shaktar only to be able to secure the advancement to the quarter finals in the temple Westfalenstadion? And of course, you remember the last three minutes of the match against Málaga. And then we had the two next matches against Real Madrid and eventually, Borussia is one of the two best teams in Europe, facing Bayern Munich on May 25th in Wembley in the first-ever German Champions League final. Does it get any bigger than this? Well, it does but this is a story for a different day. The heroes in black and yellow deserve that their story is told in its entire way so we should take a look on the second leg of the semi finals this Tuesday.
Before the match
With the incredibly Lewangoalski gala in the 4-1 against Real Madrid just one week before, Borussia held all the aces before the match in Bernabéu. However, all officials including coach Jürgen Klopp warned that the match should not be taken too lightly since Madrid had proven time and time again that they have an enormous potential in the offensive lines and that they are more than able to score three or more goals in one match. Therefore, the supporters were also warned and full focus was set on the second leg. Borussia started with the same squad that destroyed Madrid in Dortmund which meant that Lukasz Piszczek was able to make it to the starting eleven. Real changed on two positions with Essien and di María replacing Pepe and Khedira and with some changes to the tactical orientation of the team.
During the first twenty minutes, you could directly feel that Madrid had not lost hope to make it to the final at all and that they were willing to give everything to score three goals against our Borussia. Madrid started with offensive football and built enormous pressure while the Bernabéu proved to be behind the team and created a very nice atmosphere in the legendary Spanish stadium. All this resulted in the first chance for Madrid after four minutes when a nice combination ended in Higuaín appearing in front of Roman Weidenfeller but the goalkeeper in black and yellow hinted at his good form of the evening for the first time and managed to save the ball at the cost of a corner kick which resulted into being cleared by the Dortmund defense. A goal for Borussia on the other side would have meant some kind of security because Madrid would then have needed four goals to get into extra time. So Borussia tried to score as well, but a first chance was given away by Robert Lewandowski after a cross from the left side by Götze. It was one of the last actions by Mario Götze who tore his muscle fibre a few minutes later during a counter attack and needed to be substituted. Kevin Großkreutz was brought into the match and Götze will miss the rest of the season in Bundesliga competition. However, he hopes to be back in time for the Champions League final against his future employer... well, we will see about that.
Shortly before Großkreutz could step a foot on the pitch, Lewandowski got a ball after a free kick from the midfield and appeared in front of goalkeeper Lopez who once again got the upper hand against Iker Cassilas. Lewandowski was not able to score though, Lopez had no big problems saving his shot. Seconds later, it was Cristiano Ronaldo appearing totally alone in front of Weidenfeller after a very nice assist from the midfield. However, Weidenfeller saved Borussia once again with a very good reaction (13th). I could only imagine how hard the rest of the match would have become if Madrid would have been able to score during this phase of the match. Fortunately enough, they did not and that was the responsibility of Roman Weidenfeller! And to be honest, the responsibility of Mesut Özil who was through the Dortmund defense another few seconds later and missed the goal just by inches with his shot right besides the goal. After these first very hard and flustering minutes, the first offensive storm by Madrid was over. Of course, you could see that Real was willing to turn the tides on this evening but Borussia fought themselves into the match and had more control of the defense than during the first minutes of the match. And when Madrid lacked in chances, they certainly not lacked in brutality. Especially Sergio Ramos needs to be mentioned in this sense since his gameplan seemed to be to destroy Robert Lewandowski and make him pay for his four goals in the first leg. He used his elbow repeatedly in several duels with the Pole and Jürgen Klopp later praised Robert for not freaking out because the English referee Howard Webb seldom even awarded free kicks for Borussia and especially no bookings for Ramos who definitely did not play himself into the hearts of the Borussian supporters that evening. However, the goalless tie during half time was good enough for Borussia and time kept on running against the Spanish champions.
Madrid had the big chances during half one, the second half started with a huge opportunity for Borussia. An attack over the left side resulted in Kuba assisting his Pole colleague Lewandowski who would have finalized this opportunity with a goal nine out of ten times but did not hit the ball the way it was supposed to and therefore missed the goal at the beginning of the second half (49th). Less than 60 seconds later, Reus assisted Lewandowski and this time, the striker was just unlucky when his strong shot just hit the crossbar and the ball directly sprang in front of the goal while thousands of Dortmund fans could not believe that the BVB was not in front at this time (50th). And when you thought you have seen everything, you saw Ilkay Gündogan in front of the goal after a brilliant typical Dortmund-style attack over the right side with nobody but Lopez in his way and for some reason not scoring the relieving 1-0 after an hour or so. To be fair, Lopez showed a great save in this situation and Gündogan had to score the goal – of course – but he was just unlucky. Fortunately, we can think back at these situations with a smile now but just imagine what would have been if we would have went out of the competition that way.
But without Dortmund scoring the goals, Madrid came back into the match in minute 83 when Kaka played the ball to the right side of the box where Özil brought it in, right onto the foot of Karim Benzema who was brought in during the second half. Everything happened too fast for the defense in black and yellow and Madrid was back in the match. Even though Real needed two more goals and there was no reason to be afraid, some fear was accumulated in the hearts of those who stick to Borussia. And it became worse. Bernabéu woke up again, creating a very tense atmosphere and Madrid stormed to the Dortmund goal. Weidenfeller was able to clear a free kick cross first and then got the better hand of a header, but could not do anything against the 2-0 which was scored five minutes after the 1-0. First, the young guns in black and yellow did everything to block the shots and balls by the Madrid offense but one of the blocks then landed at Benzema who assisted Ramos. He of all people then caused a little panic because with a few more minutes and injury time to go, Real only needed one more goal to destroy the hopes and dreams of all the Dortmund supporters. Bernabéu once again exploded during the last six minutes of injury time who were quite long because Piszczek needed treatment during the last minutes of the regular 90 minutes. Most certainly, many supporters of Borussia had some horror visions of the 3-0 but they remained nightmares and not reality. Borussia fought on and brought the result over time. Eventually, the 2-0 meant the first defeat in this year's Champions League run but most importantly – and here we go full circle with the beginning of the text – it meant that the Road To Wembley still goes on and Borussia will be in Wembley on May, 25! Incredible! Amazing! Speechless!
Well. What is there more to say? Hardly anything. Borussia is in the final of the Champions League 2012/2013. If anyone would have told me that I'll be able to write this song at the beginning of this season, I would have called him anything but not realistic. Even after two seasons with winning championships and the DFB cup, the players of this team continue to gain immortality. Now they will have the possibility to win the great one in Wembley. And why not? Until now, nobody could stop us in the Champions League, so black and yellow dreams can continue. Let's go to Wembley and make it our night. But this is another story for a different day. First up is the final rehearsal for the final against Bayern Munich this Saturday, even though it will be a totally different match.
Real Madrid C.F.: Diego Lopez - Essien, Varane, Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao - Modric, Xabi Alonso - di María, Özil, Cristiano Ronaldo – Higuaín
Subs: Kaka and Benzema for Coentrao and Higuaín (57th), Khedira for Xabi Alonso (67th)
Champions League finalist 2012/2013: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Gündogan, Bender - Blaszczykowski, Götze, Reus – Lewandowski
Subs: Großkreutz for Götze (14th), Kehl for Lewandowski (87th), Santana for Bender (90th)
Goals: 1-0 Benzema (82nd), 2-0 Sergio Ramos (88th)
Bookings: Coentrao, Higuain, Ramos, Khedira - Gündogan, Bender, Weidenfeller
Referee: Webb (England)
Attendance: 79.429 (sold-out Estadio Santiago Bernabéu)