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Three talking points from Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich

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Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The Santiago Bernabeu witnessed something special on Wednesday night.

The game between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich was the Merengues’ final home game of the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League campaign, and the team treated fans to a spectacular performance that will go down in history.

Down and out at one point, Carlo Ancelotti’s side stitched together yet another unforgettable comeback to script history and reach the finale of the tournament once more.

The clash at the Bernabeu had it all, from the lows of going down against the run of play to the highs of a comeback. Officiating drama, tactical battles and passion dictated the game on the night, but the end result was in the Merengues’ favour.

Madrid Universal brings you three talking points from the UEFA Champions League semifinal clash last night.

The Real Madrid way

An hour into the game at Santiago Bernabeu, the game was still goalless and balanced on aggregate. Almost against the run of play, however, Bayern Munich took the lead through Alphonso Davies.

Harry Kane did well to find the Real Madrid target down the left flank, who wonderfully cut inside to wrong-foot Antonio Rudiger before firing it into the net.

The next 20 minutes saw Real Madrid push forward in numbers to strike back and get a foot back into the game. A haphazard equaliser emerged in the 71st minute but was ruled out by VAR after a foul by Nacho.

With the final whistle just minutes away, Real Madrid looked set to crash out of the competition in front of their own fans, except they didn’t.

Manuel Neuer’s long throw was intercepted by Real Madrid’s Brahim Diaz who played the ball through to Vinicius down the left flank.

Joselu was Real Madrid’s saviour. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The Brazilian pulled the trigger and forced a save from the German goalkeeper, but Neuer spilt the ball right into Joselu’s tracks to gift an equaliser.

Just like that, Los Blancos were back in the game, and with two minutes to go, extra time appeared to be on the cards. Yet, Real Madrid’s mentality in big games is such that they did not require more than three minutes to completely turn the tie around.

As they have done countless times in the UCL, the men in white found a 91st-minute winner, once again, through Joselu, to pump themselves into the finale.

Some smart off-the-ball movement helped him get into an on-side position for Rudiger’s assist which he calmly slotted into the back of the net.

At this point, serious studies must be carried out into Los Blancos’ mentality on the big stage for it is truly extraordinary. Real Madrid are never out, and the act of pulling off a late comeback in the competition should well be named the Real Madrid way.

Noise in the background

Having established a 2-1 lead with minutes to go, Real Madrid looked had the game firmly in their control. The visitors, however, did not cave in.

A bizarre incident late in stoppage time, which can well be declared unfair, has taken social media by storm and was the big talking point after the game.

Having gone down to Joselu’s brilliance, Bayern Munich began pushing forward in numbers in extra time. 13 minutes into added time, the German sent a ball over the top via Thomas Muller which found Matthijs de Ligt in a great position.

The referee, however, prematurely blew the whistle for offside without allowing the play to go on, annulling the goal de Ligt scored. Since the whistle was blown, VAR could not interfere in the decision as well.

The offside call that angered Bayern Munich. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

The officiating call drew much criticism from the Bayern Munich camp as not blowing the whistle might have allowed for a VAR call to check for offside.

As they say, however, every champion requires a tinge of luck and that well could be Los Blancos’ share of luck for the season.

One step away

Wembley now awaits as Real Madrid have set up a date for the finale of the European competition once more.

The kings of Europe will thus play the pinnacle clash in England against Borussia Dortmund next month in a bid to bring home a fifteenth UCL trophy.

Having overcome Manchester City and Bayern Munich over the past two rounds, Los Blancos are deserved finalists as they came out of the more difficult half of the draw.

Heading into the finale, thus, it is not an overstatement to claim that the men in white will be favourites to hoist the cup after 90 minutes. For starters, they have been virtually unbeatable all season, and their exceptional mentality only improves their chances.

While Dortmund may not have enjoyed a great domestic campaign, their UCL run this season has been dictated by disciplined defence and incisive attacks and the test Real Madrid will face will be paramount.

With La Liga already in the bag, Carlo Ancelotti and co. can thus maintain complete focus on the more prestigious competition. The coming weeks will be critical in preparing and staying in rhythm for the same, and all eyes will be on Wembley in the first week of June. It

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Kroos, Courtois start in a 4-3-3: How Real Madrid could lineup against Real Betis

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Photo via Getty Images

Having won the league comfortably after accumulating 94 points in 37 games, Real Madrid’s main objective for the last game of the season, set to go ahead tomorrow, against Real Betis, would be to finish on 97 points.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are coming off a 4-4 draw against Villarreal last weekend, Madrid will be looking to end the domestic season with a win, which would also serve as a huge confidence boost ahead of their Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund.

Reports have suggested that Ancelotti is alternating his lineup ahead of the UCL final to keep his troops fit and gunning. And after rotations last week against Villarreal, all signs point towards the best XI taking the field vs Betis.

Keeping that in mind, Madrid Universal takes a jab at the 14-time Champions League winners’ final starting lineup of the season for their game against Manuel Pellegrini’s Real Betis.

Defence: Militao or Nacho?

Andriy Lunin returned to guard the posts against Villarreal, which could be a sign that Ancelotti is preparing to use Thibaut Courtois as his goalkeeper against Dortmund. As such, we expect the Belgian to handle the gloves tomorrow.

Daniel Carvajal is expected to replace Lucas Vazquez as the right-back, while Ferland Mendy returns to take over his left-back role.

Antonio Rudiger’s spot does not seem to be in any threat at all, but there are question marks over who will start alongside him, especially on the back of Eder Militao’s disastrous performance vs Villarreal.

Consequently, Nacho might get the nod tomorrow, especially since it could be his last game for Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Midfield: Farewell Toni

While Nacho’s future is still up in the air, Toni Kroos announced his decision to leave Madrid at the end of the season on a free transfer. He will play his final game at home tomorrow, and is expected to get a huge farewell.

Kroos’ last game in Madrid colours. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Federico Valverde will aid him in midfield, playing on the right side of the trident, while Eduardo Camavinga starts as the defensive midfielder to cover for the injured Aurelien Tchouameni.

Attack: No doubts

The attack pretty much picks itself, especially if Ancelotti is truly planning on mirroring the lineup that will likely start the Champions League final as well.

Jude Bellingham will retain his spot as the false 9, playing slightly off left as he has done more so in recent weeks.

Brazilian powerhouse Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo will get the license to start as the two forwards up top, playing in front of Bellingham.

Off the bench

Joselu will almost definitely get some minutes tomorrow, and more than likely in the Champions League final as well, especially owing to his brilliance against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals.

Similarly, Ancelotti could opt to experiment with Luka Modric in midfield in the second half, especially if Tchouameni does not make it back in time to full fitness ahead of the final.

Eder Militao and Arda Guler are also in for some minutes tomorrow, with the latter on the scoresheet four time sin the last three games.

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