MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 25: Fans of Bayern show banner during the UEFA Champions League semi final second leg match between Real Madrid and Bayern Muenchen at Bernabeu Stadium on April 25, 2012 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich: Germans To The Final On Penalties

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid couldn't decide their tie with 210 minutes of football, so it went to penalties, where the Bavarians prevailed, 3-1.

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Real Madrid's Failure Is Not Mourinho's Folly

It might be easy to blame Jose Mourinho for Real Madrid's failure in the Champions League, but the facts don't add up for me.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Final Score, Bavarians Win On Penalties

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid played a wildly entertaining and wide open 30 minutes of football to start the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal tie, but shifted into a slower-paced, conservative, tactical battle for the rest of the match. Real Madrid took a 2-0 lead early, but Bayern answered with an away goal that locked up the tie at 3-3. With the tie even, both teams changed their strategy and eventually found themselves in a penalty shootout. In penalties, Manuel Neuer came up huge with two saves, sending the Bavarians through to the UEFA Champions League final.

Madrid took the lead after just six minutes of play through a penalty kick. David Alaba was the man whistled for the penalty, with the referee catching him blocking an Angel Di Maria shot with his arm. Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up and buried the penalty. They doubled their lead from open play in the 14th minute, once again through Ronaldo. Mesut Özil provided the assist, hitting a pass into the box for an unmarked Ronaldo, who calmly placed a shot past Manuel Neuer.

Bayern Munich produced a surprising answer, and it was an absolute gift from Los Merengues. In the 26th minute, Pepe was called for a push in the back on Mario Gomez, who was trying to get on the end of a Toni Kroos cross. Gomez had almost no chance to get to the cross, so it was inexplicable that Pepe felt the need to ever put an arm on the Bayern striker. He went down easily, but Pepe had no reason to touch him in the first place. Arjen Robben stepped up and like Ronaldo at the other end, converted his penalty calmly.

Robben almost gave his side the aggregate lead with a free kick in first half stoppage time, but Iker Casillas made a terrific save. It wasn't obvious live, but Karim Benzema deflected the free kick with a handball, and it was a much more egregious one than the one Alaba committed on the other end.

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Neither manager made any changes at halftime, but the game still changed considerably. The first half was very fast and open, with both teams regularly going through the midfield with long passes, but the second half was played at a slower place and was played almost exclusively in the middle. Bayern's deep midfielders did a better job of winning the ball than Madrid's while Kroos came deep to find the ball much more often than Özil, allowing Bayern to control possession.

Both teams had chances throughout the second half, but they were really just half chances. Both Neuer and Iker Casillas looked very composed between the sticks throughout and, despite some minor hiccups, both teams defended much better in the second half than they did in the first. Benzema was Madrid's biggest threat, forcing a save in the 57th minute and getting free down the endline in the 77th, but on that occasion his cross was blocked.

Bayern's best chance of the second half came late, in the 86th minute. Arjen Robben put a low ball right to the feet of Gomez, who had a chance to shoot, but he appeared to contract the Yips. His touch was absolutely woeful.Fail_medium

When one of the best strikers in the world takes a touch like that, it's more or less a sign from the divine that this game requires extra time. No one scored in the final four minutes of regular time, and the match headed for 30 more minutes of football.

With the result of the match still up in the air, the biggest events in the first half of extra time were the yellow cards. Luiz Gustavo and Holger Badstuber, both on potential suspension, picked up yellow cards. That made it three Bayern players -- those two and Alaba -- who picked up suspensions for the final before knowing whether or not their team would be there. Jupp Heynckes also made one substitution in the first half of extra time, bringing on Thomas Müller for a tired Franck Ribery.

Jose Mourinho started the second period of extra time by making an understandable, yet risky substitution. Gonzalo Higuain, who was also facing a suspension if he picked up a yellow card, entered to relieve Benzema up top for Madrid. Los Merengues made their final change six minutes later, bringing on Esteban Granero for Özil.

There was one bit of controversy in the 115th minute when Neuer and Granero came in contact in the penalty area. Granero attempted to shield a ball and Neuer bravely, but perhaps stupidly, went around Granero with his leg and attempted to make a tackle. He missed the ball and he appeared to make some contact with Granero's leg, but the Madrid substitute certainly made the most of minimal contact, leading the referee to book him for diving.

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That was easily the biggest moment extra time, which was cautiously played like the second half. With the teams unable to separate themselves with 210 minutes of football, they headed to penalties.

The penalty shootout was a remarkable one, with both goalkeepers coming up when their teams needed them most. David Alaba scored the opener for Bayern Munich, which was followed up by a terrific save by Neuer on Cristiano Ronaldo, low and to his right.

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After Gomez made his penalty, Kaka tried to go to the same spot as Ronaldo and achieved the same result, hitting the hand of Neuer.

It appeared at that point like Bayern had things under control, but they certainly made it hard on themselves. Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm both missed their penalties while Xabi Alonso made his, gifting Madrid a way back into the shootout.

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They made nothing of that gift.

With the shootout tied, Sergio Ramos stepped up to the spot. This time, Neuer didn't need to make a save. The Madrid defender hit an absolutely abysmal penalty, skying it a mile over the crossbar to give Madrid a chance to win the tie.

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Bastian Schweinsteiger stepped up cool and composed and made the winning penalty, setting up a home Champions League final for his team.

We have live coverage of the game in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Penalty Shootout!

Update: Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich, Final Score (Bayern win on penalties)

We've gone to penalties at the Santiago Bernabeu. Despite the game seeing no fewer than three goals in the first half hour, it's been scoreless since and that leaves us perfectly level on aggregate. You could tell that both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid were playing for this, because neither really seemed able to do anything for most of extra time - they're really, really tired.

Two penalty kicks have already been scored in this match, incidentally. Both Cristiano Ronaldo and Arjen Robben have notched from the spot against Manuel Neuer and Iker Casillas respectively. It'll be down to the goalkeepers now. Incidentally, Bayern have never lost a penalty shootout in the Champions League. Let's see what happens now!

Bayern Munich will kick first...

David Alaba SCORES. Coolly done, sending Casillas the wrong way.

Cristiano Ronaldo SAVED. Great save Neuer, diving to his right. Not a bad penalty.

Mario Gomez SCORES. Casillas dives wrong way again - he'd have saved that if he guessed right.

Kaka SAVED AGAIN. Brilliant save - carbon copy of the Ronaldo miss.

Toni Kroos SAVED. Too casual, great save Casillas to his left.

Xabi Alonso SCORES. Down the middle to give Real hope.

Phillipp Lahm SAVED! All square again, Casillas dives to his right, pen is straight down the middle, but saved anyway!

Sergio Ramos MISSES. Blasted well over the crossbar. Hilarious, if you're neutral.

Bastian Schweinsteiger SCORES TO TAKE BAYERN MUNICH TO THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL.

We have live coverage of the game in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Bookings For Gustavo And Badstuber

Well it's a good thing for Real Madrid that Arjen Robben wasn't making a far-post run there. Thomas Muller has the ball on the Bayern Munich right and swings in a cross towards Mario Gomez in the centre. Kind of - instead the ball falls into the triangle between Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Iker Casillas, all of whom stare at each other in horror as none of them go for it. But, there was nobody there for Bayern. Danger averted!

Oh, and Luiz Gustavo has, finally, been shown the yellow card for his ten billionth foul of the game, this time on Pepe. He has the nerve to look annoyed at finally been booked despite having gotten away with basically everything tonight - he'll miss the final if Bayern get there.Oh, and Badstuber gets booked too for wiping out Karim Benzema, and he now faces a ban. Bayern will be decimated if they get there.

We've now gotten to half time in extra time, and it's still 3-3 overall. Penalties await unless we get goals in the next fifteen minutes.

We have live coverage of the game in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Extra Time Begins

Update: Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich, Final Score (Bayern win on penalties)

After 180 minutes of football, it's Real Madrid three, Bayern Munich three, and you know what that means - extra time! Yay! It's been a fun match, though, so I'm more than happy to have more of it. The two very tired teams probably won't be, but they can deal with it.

Real get us going, stroking the ball around the back before Sergio Ramos tries an ambitious long ball towards Karim Benzema. It doesn't work, but the hosts latch onto the clearance and end up winning a corner, which results in some interesting pinball in Manuel Neuer's box. Bayern can clear, but not before a rather funny attempt at an overhead kick from Cristiano Ronaldo, which came while he was sitting down. Nice.

We have live coverage of the game in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Halftime Score, Tie Level After Thrilling Half

Update: Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich, Final Score (Bayern win on penalties)

Real Madrid appeared to be cruising to the UEFA Champions League final easily in the first 15 minutes, as they scored twice without Bayern even putting up a fight. Improbably, Bayern got back into the game thanks to a poor decision by Pepe in his own area, gifting a penalty to Bayern. They converted, and Madrid lead 2-1 on the day at halftime. That was the exact score of the first leg at the Allianz Arena, so the teams will head to extra time if the score stands.

It would be stunning to see that score stand, though. There have been chances galore, and it's incredible that each team doesn't have a couple more goals. Neither team's finishing has been terrific, while both Manuel Neuer and Iker Casillas look very sharp in their respective goals.

Real Madrid were gifted the opening goal just five minutes into the game, via a handball by David Alaba. The Bayern left back went down to block a shot by Angel Di Maria, but inadvertently blocked it with his arm. The referee pointed to the spot and Cristiano Ronaldo converted without a problem to put his side ahead 1-0 on the night and ahead on away goals in the tie.

Madrid struck from open play just under 10 minutes later as the Bavarians fell asleep in defense. Phillip Lahm, normally one of the most composed and focused defenders in the world, completely lost track of Cristiano Ronaldo on the edge of the penalty area. Mesut Özil sipped a pass into the unmarked Madrid star and he finished calmly to double Madrid's lead on the night. Crissy, going beast mode.

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Much like when Andres Iniesta scored for Barcelona on Tuesday night, many viewers probably presumed the tie to be over when Ronaldo's second goal went in, but Bayern Munich fought back. Even though their willingness to attack and their ability to get into the Madrid box was impressive, they didn't exactly score the equalizer in stunning fashion. Instead, it was gifted to them when Pepe shoved Mario Gomez in the box. Toni Kroos' cross into Gomez was nowhere near the Bayern striker, and Pepe had absolutely no reason to do anything but let Gomez run by. Gomez might have gone down a bit easily, but it's hard to feel bad for Pepe, who should have just kept his arms off Gomez in the first place.

Arjen Robben stepped up and converted the penalty easily, locking up the tie on aggregate. The 15 minutes that followed were spectacular, with lots of attacking play and not a whole lot of either team sitting on the ball in midfield. Robben had a chance to put his side ahead in first half stoppage time with a free kick from the edge of the box, but Casillas made a fantastic save to keep things level.

We have live coverage of the game in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Robben Penalty Levels Tie

Goodness, there's that Real Madrid counterattack. Bayern Munich hold the ball for long enough for the Santiago Bernabeu crowd to start whistling in annoyance, but Angel di Maria eventually intercepts and sends white shirts streaming forwards. Manuel Neuer is left all alone by his defence, but eventually is able to fall on the ball after a few minutes of utter fear.

Oh, and then Bayern Munich score. Of course they do! Toni Kroos is fed on the right flank by Mario Gomez and attempts to cross for Gomez, but the centre forward is bundled over by Pepe. The referee didn't hesitate to point to the spot, giving Pepe a booking in the process, and Arjen Robben managed to make up for his earlier miss (and that penalty against Borussia Dortmund) with a spot kick that just about snuck past Iker Casillas.

So it's 2-1 to Real on the night, but 3-3 on aggregate. The hosts no longer have the away goal advantage, either.

We have live coverage of the game in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Ronaldo Doubles Lead

Real Madrid had been under pretty much constant pressure since going ahead, but they managed to break out of their own half and then score again through Cristiano Ronaldo. That's far, far too easy - Karim Benzema draws the centre backs out of position and then Phillipp Lahm fails to track the Portuguese's run, leaving him completely free down the centre.

Mesut Ozil picked Ronaldo out with a perfect pass, and he didn't miss, finishing perfectly into the bottom corner. This tie has been completely turned around within the first fifteen minutes, with Real Madrid going ahead 3-2 on aggregate thanks to their two early goals. Bayern haven't played badly by any means but a harsh penalty and a meltdown in defence have really hurt them here. It's difficult to see a way back for the Germans now - they need the next goal.

We have live coverage of the game in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Ronaldo Penalty Gives Real Lead

We're five minutes into the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal and... Real Madrid have a penalty. A cross from Marcelo was met with a frankly awful volley from Angel di Maria. David Alaba throws himself at the wayward shot to block, but the ball hits his arm and the spot kick is given, along with the yellow card that will see Alaba suspended for Bayern's next game.

Cristiano Ronaldo does his part in ensuring that that won't be the final, slamming his spot kick low and to Neuer's right. That's the hosts leading 1-0 on the night, and although the tie is level on aggregate Real Madrid are, as it stands, heading to the final on away goals. Awful start for Bayern.

We have live coverage of the game in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Lineups

Real Madrid and Bayern Munich both played well and got reasonable results in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal tie, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that both teams have not made any significant changes for the second leg. The only change at all is made by Los Merengues, who bring the more attack-minded Marcelo in for Fabio Coentrao.

Real Madrid Lineup (4-2-3-1): Iker Casillas; Marcelo, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Alvaro Arbeloa; Sami Khedira, Xabi Alonso; Cristiano Ronaldo, Mesut Özil, Angel Di Maria; Karim Benzema

Substitutes: Antonio Adan, Fabio Coentrao, Kaka, Raul Albiol, Jose Maria Callejon, Esteban Granero, Gonzalo Higuain

Bayern Munich Lineup (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; David Alaba, Holger Badstuber, Jerome Boateng, Phillip Lahm; Luiz Gustavo, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Franck Ribery, Toni Kroos, Arjen Robben; Mario Gomez

Substitutes: Hans-Jorg Butt, Rafinha, Diego Contento, Daniel Pranjic, Ivica Olic, Thomas Müller

Kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local time from the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain. You can catch the game on FX in the U.S., Sportsnet in Canada and ITV 1 in the U.K..

We'll have live coverage of the game in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Is Mario Gomez The Best Centre Forward Around?

Is Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich the best collection of central forward talent that a Champions League tie has seen this year? It's certainly close - Arsenal and AC Milan had Robin van Persie and Zlatan Ibrahimovic on the same pitch, while in Chelsea vs. Napoli both Didier Drogba and Edinson Cavani shone (albeit not in the same match) - but Real Madrid boast Karim Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain, two superlative talents, while Bayern Munich can call on perhaps the best of the lot: Mario Gomez.

Bayern fans would certainly arguing that their Tormachine is the pick of the litter. 25 goals in 28 Bundesliga starts eclipses Robin van Persie's goals per game record with Arsenal in the Premier League (27 in 34), and Gomez's domestic form is bettered by his astonishing run in Europe. With Bayern on the verge of the final, Gomez has scored a scarcely believable twelve goals in nine matches. Take away his crazy haul against Basel and he still ends up with a goal per game - the most recent that late, late winner at the Allianz to put Real on the back foot in this tie.

That goal, of course, was the result of an amusingly poor finish, and it did cover up a series of bad misses earlier in the match. But that's football. Strikers will inevitably miss more often than they score, and Gomez scores enough that Bayern fans can forgive the sometimes hilarious lapse. Although he's competing against a field of excellent centre forwards - you can probably add Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao to the list of names above - it's not totally absurd to suggest that Gomez might be the pick of the bunch.

If he can push Bayern Munich to the Champions League final, there might not be too much argument.

We'll have pre-game and live game coverage in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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Real Madrid Vs. Bayern Munich, 2012 UEFA Champions League: Several Key Players A Yellow Away From Suspension

By the time the UEFA Champions League semifinals are over, you could probably make a pretty good team out of the players who'll be suspended for the final in Munich. Confirmed finalists Chelsea will be missing John Terry, Ramires, Branislav Ivanovic and Raul Meireles. Whoever gets through out of Real Madrid and Barcelona is also expected to be missing some key names as well, because no fewer than eleven players from the two sides are a booking away from a ban.

Thanks to their depth, Madrid aren't as bad off as Bayern on this front, although Jose Mourinho will most assuredly not be happy if centre back Sergio Ramos contrives to see yellow on Wednesday. The other three Madridistas a booking away from suspension are Fabio Coentrao, Gonzalo Higuain and Xabi Alonso, all of whom are fantastic players. However, those three have more obvious backups than Ramos does, so I can't imagine it'd be overly worrying for Madrid should any of that trio miss out.

Although Bayern would have the advantage of hosting the final if they got through, they're looking at the potential of rather serious losses via suspension if they're able to get past what's sure to be a grueling fixture at the Santiago Bernabeu. No less than seven of their players are on their final yellow card, and it's not just bit-part guys that are on the edge of a ban. Philipp Lahm, Holger Badstuber, David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Toni Kroos, Luiz Gustavo and Thomas Muller are all starting players, and should a significant fraction of them end up suspended, Bayern are in a world of trouble.

As for the game, I wouldn't be shocked if the cards flew. Both teams want this trophy, both know it's within reach against a weakened Chelsea and neither is averse to playing a physical game. Should be an interesting one.

We'll have pre-game and live game coverage in our Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich StoryStream. For more on the two teams, head over to Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid and Bayern Munich blog Bavarian Football Works.

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