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A hundred minutes of balls bouncing off the bus

AS AS 23/04/2014 Alfredo Relaño

Mou deals in a variety of registers. One of those is what we saw last night, perhaps his favourite: the ‘bat’ tactic – everyone hanging from the crossbar. It could also be called ‘parking the bus in the six-yard box’. Actual football? Perish the thought. Kick everything that moves and don’t let the ball touch the ground. Torres up top, all by himself, in case any balls came his way. A tortuous task that you wouldn't wish on anyone. From his position of isolation, he managed to carve out two interesting moments; one, almost at the end, led to a Luiz free-kick that had the whole stadium holding its breath. It went over, though. Football can be perverse at times, but not to that extent.

The onus of the match fell on Atleti, of course. Lacking other avenues in the first half, they did little more than send balls into the mixer, to Raúl García, or try from outside the box. In the second, with Arda on and Terry taken off injured (like Cech in the first period), it was a different story. Atleti put together moves, got into areas and got a few shots away. Not many, but still a few. They deserved at least a 1-0 lead for their efforts, but it ended 0-0. Though not a good result, it’s no bad one either, particularly considering the players Chelsea will be missing through suspension and injury in the return. 100 minutes the match lasted. 100 minutes of balls bouncing off the bus.

And today, Madrid-Bayern: Europe’s big rivalry. Madrid went to bed last night with reason to be worried, because Cristiano is still a doubt and Bale has been hit by a very untimely bout of flu. He slept at home pending further developments to his health, while the rest slept at Valdebebas. Neither is ruled out; but, if that’s the shape they were in yesterday, it’d be a surprise if they were in perfect fettle tonight. But with the pair on half cylinders, or even without them, Madrid are still a huge force to be reckoned with. So are Bayern, of course. One assumes today will be different: a more open, attractive game. One thing won’t change, though: the thrill of the Champions League.

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