Real Madrid's 2-1 Champions
League reverse at Bayern Munich on Tuesday raised questions
about the tactics of coach Jose Mourinho and prompted sharp
criticism of hapless left-back Fabio Coentrao.
After falling behind to a 17th-minute Franck Ribery strike
in the semi-final first leg in Germany, Real battled back to 1-1
when Mesut Ozil tapped in what could prove a priceless away goal
eight minutes after the break at the Allianz Arena.
Instead of going in for the kill, Mourinho appeared willing
to settle for a draw and hauled off creative pair Ozil and Angel di Maria, replacing them with full-back Marcelo and defensive
midfielder Esteban Granero.
Brazilian Kaka, a former World Player of the Year and the
natural replacement for Ozil if the German was tiring, was left
on the bench.
It might have worked out, securing a slight advantage for
next week's second leg in Madrid, but for another dreadful
performance from Mourinho's Portuguese compatriot Coentrao, for
whom Real paid Benfica 30 million euros.
Coentrao was unable to cope with tricky Bayern forwards
Ribery and Arjen Robben and allowed Philipp Lahm to skip past
him and cross for Mario Gomez's 90th-minute winner, sealing
Real's first defeat in Europe's elite club competition this
Although he was given unequivocal backing by his coach and
team-mates, the latest below-par performance from the
24-year-old was rubbished in the Spanish sports media and he was
ridiculed on Twitter.
Daily Marca noted that it was Coentrao, who was criticised
recently after being photographed smoking in public, who
conceded the free-kick that allowed CSKA Moscow to score a late
equaliser in their last-16 first leg in February.
"The 30-million-euro full-back saved the best until last [against Bayern] when he was very late closing down Lahm, who
was able to cross under no pressure for Mario Gomez to score,"
the paper wrote sarcastically.
It also speculated whether the Benfica fans had erected a
statue of their club president for convincing Real to pay so
much for the Portuguese international, who had an unsuccessful
stint on loan at La Liga side Real Zaragoza in the 2008/09
Coentrao's team-mates preferred to focus on the positives
from Tuesday's game as they prepared for Saturday's La Liga
'Clasico' at bitter rivals Barcelona.
Centre-back Pepe, another Portuguese, said Real's "quality"
should see them through to next month's final, also in Munich,
where they would meet holders Barca or Premier League side
Chelsea, who play their first leg in London on Wednesday.
"We believe in our strengths and I am convinced we will get
to the final," Ozil, who plays in the German national team with
many of the Bayern players, told reporters.
"I am a bit sad about the defeat but I have a positive
feeling," the former Werder Bremen player added. "We'll meet
again in Munich."
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, who led Real to the Champions
League title in 1998, will have noted Coentrao's weaknesses and
the Portuguese can expect another torrid time in Wednesday's
second leg - if he is selected.
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