Pitchside

Five things we learned from the first legs: Just one goal but plenty of drama

Pitchside

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There was only one goal in the Champions League semi-final first legs but no shortage of drama and intrigue after both ties were left in the balance.

Here is what caught our eye this week:

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1) Kahn, Beckenbauer and Guardiola ­- they can't all be right, can they?

When Bayern Munich lost the 1999 Champions League final to Manchester United, they had won the Bundesliga three weeks earlier, after Matchday 31.

Two years later, Bayern's 2001 title win went down to the final game ­ even the final seconds of that match, with Patrick Andersson's winning goal the last kick of the season ­ and they followed that up with a Champions League final win over Valencia.

This Bayern side won the Bundesliga four weeks ago, with a record seven games still to play. Pep Guardiola decided to rest players to keep them fresh for games such as this semi-final against Real Madrid, but when Bayern's results dipped in the last few weeks, he admitted it was an error.

"This mental drop after winning the title is perfectly understandable," wrote Oliver Khan in Bild last week.

"I know this phenomenon from my own experience and know what dangers are involved. The players sit back and don't take the games 100 per cent seriously.

"Then there is a challenge to reboot before a real test; but even if you are short by one or two per cent in the crucial games, that can endanger your chances."

Was that part of the reason that Bayern could not make the breakthrough at the Bernabeu, and only test Iker Casillas with one effort late on from Mario Goetze? Or was it more serious, going back to the criticism of Franz Beckenbauer of his own team?

Speaking on Sky Germany, Der Kaiser said: "Possession means nothing when your opponent creates chances. Bayern should be happy that [Real Madrid] only scored one."

Guardiola agreed with his boss: "They could have scored more."

The memory of Beckenbauer's criticism of Bayern earlier in the season returned last night: "We will end up looking like Barcelona and no-one will want to see us play, it may even annoy fans. I have another vision of football," he said.

Gary Neville called it "possession without purpose" but the truth is this relates to Kahn's point too.

Bayern did have possession with purpose before they won the title. Along with their momentum, they have also lost that purpose too. Maybe a little creative tension is a good thing, but Guardiola has six days to rediscover that purpose.

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2) Is BBC the best channel for Real Madrid?

So in the last seven days, Real Madrid have beaten Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and on both occasions only fielded one of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. Isco filled an extra midfield slot and Madrid's defence held firm from open play (only conceding a Bartra header from a corner) against both sides.

As the season reaches its crunch, is there any argument for only picking one of the speedy wingers in the second leg against Bayern, especially if possession will be even harder to come by at the Allianz?

Or will the twin threats of Bale and Ronaldo be even more useful in Germany, given that one away goal would leave Bayern needing three to get through?

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3) It could be a busy summer for Ashley Cole

The Chelsea left-back is out of contract this summer but won't be short of offers after yet another example of superb defensive play.

Cole had not played for Chelsea since January, with Jose Mourinho preferring the right-footed Cesar Azpilicueta in his place, but any doubts that Cole might somehow have lost form were banished at the Vicente Calderon.

Who might be interested? First of all, Roy Hodgson, who, for all his intentions to field a young side in Brazil, might prefer the 33-year-old as back-up to Leighton Baines instead of 18-year-old Luke Shaw. Then there all the other clubs who need a left-back, and not just New York Red Bulls, where Cole's friend Thierry Henry plays. Real Madrid have been linked, as have Liverpool; but there's one other team that needs a left-back next season, and Cole might not even have to move house to play there.

They play at White Hart Lane.

Cole, an Arsenal fan, surely couldn't follow the path of William Gallas from Arsenal to Chelsea to Spurs... or could he?

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4) Jose Mourinho and the ultimate conspiracy theory

All Jose Mourinho has to do is open his mouth and the idea that he is playing mind games or in some way is trying to hoodwink opponents or the targets of his latest row kick in as our default reaction.

So while Chelsea fans were discussing the prospect of Mourinho resting players for the Liverpool game long before injuries to Petr Cech and John Terry made the need to do it even more pressing, the Chelsea coach suggested that he would do just that.

After all, Mourinho is currently ignoring the Premier League directive to address the press before and after games because of his row with Chris Foy, who he blamed for Chelsea's defeat to Aston Villa in March (never mind Ramires, who was sent off for foul play, and who should have been sent off again last weekend in the loss to Sunderland).

"What happened in the defeat against Villa, I never learn, I never accept," he said. "Somebody was very successful in putting a hurdle in front of us."

It's true that in the last few weeks, Mourinho has cut a miserable figure despite claiming all year that to expect major trophies this season, his first back at the club, would be premature: Chelsea have pushed Liverpool close in the league and are 90 minutes from the Champions League final.

As The Times's Matt Dickinson pointed out: "Winning but with ultra-defensive football, rows with refs, hand grenades in press conferences: wasn't all this why Abramovich once tired of Mourinho?"

Then, because Mourinho has often forced us to think the worst, look at it from another side: Chelsea played attritional (to put it generously) football in the Champions League semi-final; David Moyes has left Manchester United, a job that Mourinho wanted last summer.

Mourinho is picking fights with anyone he can at the moment. We all know that 2+2 does not equal 5 but with Mourinho, you just never know.

Here is the question: if United asked Mourinho to replace Moyes (a long shot I know), would he consider it? Or would he wait a month to think about it, then say no and put back United's plans even further?

It sounds a ridiculous thought, and it is, but the mere fact it can be a thought just shows that Mourinho's Machiavelli side can make us think the worst of anyone.

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5) Anyone fancy another Chelsea reunion?

In the round of 16, we barely heard the end of Didier Drogba's return to Chelsea, and when it came, it was the dampest of squibs. Drogba played poorly.

Another former Chelsea player will be in west London next week, as Tiago Mendes, a midfielder signed in the first Mourinho era, is set to replace Atletico's suspended captain Gabi.

Gabi got himself booked, along with John Obi Mikel, after a scuffle following a Lampard handball, shortly after the Englishman had already been booked. As it turned out, Lampard will also be suspended for the second leg, leaving Chelsea's possible midfield three an all-Brazilian affair with Luiz, Ramires and Oscar.

The word from Spain, though, was that Atletico would miss Gabi more than Chelsea would miss Lampard and Mikel. With Petr Cech injured, John Terry a doubt, and Eden Hazard likely to return, Chelsea's side will have a different look to it. So will their opponents.

Ben Lyttleton | Follow on Twitter

More on the Champions League semi-finals:

"We're lucky Real only scored one," says Bayern chief

Ancelotti's men bust the possession 'myth'

VIDEO - Euro Papers: "I'll rip Mourinho's head off!"

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