After getting knocked out of the Champions League in the semifinal stage for a third consecutive time, the comments made by Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho after the match seemed to grab more headlines than the match itself, which turned out to be another failure for a team that should have done a whole lot more over the past few seasons.
Mourinho couldn’t have hinted any better about wanting to return to England, and specifically Chelsea. Cristiano Ronaldo, on the other hand, talked about loyalty to Real Madrid, and not caring about Mourinho. It was a bit of a misquote, which makes it sound like the Portuguese players doesn’t like his manager (maybe he doesn’t), but the basis of it was that he doesn’t care what Mourinho’s next job is.
Mourinho showed more tactical flexibility in this match in terms of changes he was willing to make after being outclassed on the pitch by Dortmund in the first leg. It almost paid off for him in the first 15 minutes – Cristiano Ronaldo looked like a fade wandering aimlessly around the pitch, but Luka Modric was excellent in his ability to break the midfield pressure and connect defense with attack, while Mesut Ozil looked so much comfortable in the hole instead of on the right wing, where he has no effect unless he’s the joining player, overloading the flank.
But after a few chances for Gonzalo Higuain, Ronaldo and Ozil, it was over for Real Madrid. Mourinho was praised many times for his Plan B’s, this time taking out Fabio Coentrao and eventually putting in Sami Khedira and Kaka in order to add more pressure from the middle, but Dortmund had no problem dealing with that kind of “pressure.” Real Madrid hate being the team that controls possession, and they looked uncomfortable for about 60 minutes while Dortmund, through Gundogan, Reus and Lewandowski looked like the more dangerous team.
But football has nothing to do with tactics, not from a certain point. Cristiano Ronaldo had no effect whatsoever as the second striker, but Real Madrid almost made it out without him doing a single memorable thing for the entire match. Crosses and pressure. No thought, no order. Sometimes it works, especially with Dortmund falling straight into the trap and allowing Real Madrid chance after chance to overload their box.
In the end, justice couldn’t be cheated. Real Madrid didn’t put enough of a good display to counter Dortmund’s brilliant one from the first half. Those who should have excelled – Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso, Luka Mudric and Mesut Ozil were good only for short moments, and didn’t make the most of the chances they did get. You can attribute it to certain tactics by Mourinho, giving up on the flanks too soon, but it was a lot about individual performance simply not being up to par.
A night that felt like an ending to something. The Jose Mourinho era with the club, maybe more. A disappointing three years, for the most part, that have twice, or maybe three times, ended with the feeling that the team hasn’t achieved what it wanted, what it should and could have. With performances like this one from “the best player in the world” according to some, there’s no real chance of beating a superior team.