“The only time I cried.” Real Madrid’s most dramatic exit from the Champions League – from Bayern

By | May 11, 2024

Tears of Ronaldo, Mourinho on his knees, and the famous Sergio Ramos penalty. The 2012 semifinal — legendary. Bayern Munich versus Real Madrid – a classic in football. In the Champions League, these teams have faced each other in 21 matches, but one of the most memorable encounters happened in the 2011/2012 season. Then, as now, Munich and Madrid met in the semifinals of the UCL, ending in tears for José Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo. That season, Real was the strongest during the Mourinho era. The “Merengues” scored exactly 100 points in the Spanish league, suffering only two defeats in 38 rounds. Ronaldo hammered in 46 goals in La Liga and added another 10 in the Champions League.

For Bayern, it was the last season until now when the Munich team did not become German champions. But Jupp Heynckes was building a fantastic team, which soon would claim victories in the Bundesliga and the Champions League. That season he lifted Bayern from third to second place, coming closer to Dortmund’s Borussia under Jürgen Klopp.

In the Champions League group stage, Real swept everyone away: six wins in six games in a group with Lyon, Ajax, and Dinamo Zagreb, with a goal difference of 19:2. Bayern won the group with Napoli, Villarreal, and Manchester City, scoring 13 points. In the round of 16, Real defeated CSKA Moscow (1:1 away and 4:1 at home), and Bayern demolished Basel (0:1 away and 7:0 at home). In the quarterfinals, Real removed that season’s sensation, Cypriot APOEL (3:0 away and 5:2 at home), and Bayern overcame Marseille, winning both matches by a 2:0 score. Thus, Mourinho’s and Heynckes’ teams reached each other. The first semifinal took place on April 17 in Germany. Before the match against Real, two unpleasant incidents hinted that nothing good awaited the Madrid team in Munich. First, tickets that some players and members of the coaching staff had prepared for friends and relatives were stolen from the hotel administrator’s desk where Real was staying. Then, several sets of football gear and six pairs of players’ boots, including three belonging to Ronaldo, were stolen right from the locker room. Spare ones had to be used.

Mourinho was outraged: “A disgrace and shame! I can’t imagine this happening at the Bernabeu.”

It remains speculative whether these events influenced Real’s game at the Allianz Arena, but Mourinho’s team lost. Bayern opened the scoring in the 17th minute after a corner from the left flank. The ball fortuitously rebounded to Ribery from his teammate Badstuber in the center of the penalty area, and the Frenchman powerfully drove it into the net. By that time, tensions were high. Ribery almost got into a fight with an opponent while trying to earn a penalty. The game then resembled a seesaw. Real could have equalized earlier, but only managed it towards the hour mark. Instead of shooting, Benzema made a low cross along the goal, and Ronaldo rolled the ball to Özil, who beat goalkeeper Neuer from close range. However, in the 90th minute, Bayern finally overpowered the “Merengues”. Center forward Gomez had missed several opportunities but brilliantly anticipated the play after Lahm eluded Coentrao and made a low cross into the goal area. Mourinho could only shake his head in dissatisfaction as Bayern scored.

The second leg took place on April 25 at the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid awaited revenge, and tickets for the stadium were impossible to get, despite high prices ranging from €60 to €325. In Munich, tickets for the Champions League semifinal were sold for less (from €40 to €125).

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