Carlo Ancelotti, Bayern Munich must shoulder some blame for UCL loss
It is a massive understatement to say referee Viktor Kassai and his crew cannot expect a joyous welcome if they were planning a holiday in Bavaria anytime soon. After losing 4-2 to Real Madrid after extra time, Bayern have laid the blame in unison clearly at the feet of the officials for their demise in the Bernabeu. Even Philipp Lahm said Bayern "didn't have any luck with the officials," which is bordering on a meltdown from their very classy skipper.
Admittedly, Kassai and his Hungarian team got some massive calls wrong, but in the cold light of day -- however painful it might be -- don't forget there were a few key decisions in Bayern's favour.
It was a surprise Arjen Robben's penalty was given early in the second half to hand Bayern a lifeline in the tie, and Robert Lewandowski was offside and interfering with play for Sergio Ramos' bizarre own goal which earnt the German champions the extra half hour. The erroneous offsides when Cristiano Ronaldo reaped his hat trick rewards have been well-documented elsewhere, but in reality, the tie turned in Real's favour when Arturo Vidal blazed his spot kick into the Munich night sky in the first leg.
In addition, even that very debatable penalty decision was a Bayern bonus as Franck Ribery's shot quite clearly struck the chest of Dani Carvajal and not his hand or arm. Thereafter, Manuel Neuer proceeded almost singlehandedly to keep his side in the tie with a record 10 saves in the first leg. Ronaldo scored two in Munich, but it could really have been six or seven such was the gulf in class between the two sides, especially after Javi Martinez's naive sending off.
Ultimately, in the second leg, Carlo Ancelotti's decision to keep Vidal on the pitch proved highly questionable as the Chile midfielder's nerve let him down when it mattered most. His sending off looked an accident waiting to happen from very early on. Cautioned after only five minutes for a foul on Isco, Vidal was immediately forced to walk the red card tightrope in the intense cauldron of the Bernabeu. Vidal was ultra-fortunate to escape a red card for a clear foul on Casemiro early in the second half, but Ancelotti decided to hook off Xabi Alonso (who was also on a yellow card) rather than the combative Chilean, who wasn't so lucky on 84 minutes when adjudged to have fouled substitute Marco Asensio.
As in the first leg in Munich, Bayern badly missed the experience of Alonso at a vital stage. Of course, the Brazilian Casemiro should have also walked prematurely in opposition colours, but from Bayern's point of view, Vidal's almost inevitable fate could easily have been avoided by sensibly taking him out of the firing line. The only surprise was that Vidal actually managed to last 84 minutes. Following his penalty miss in the first leg, Vidal will no doubt have nightmares about Bayern's agonising exit, especially as, like Ancelotti, Vidal was brought in to make the difference in the final stages of the European elite.
Ancelotti, a proven Champions League winner with AC Milan and Los Blancos, exits in the quarterfinals to a Spanish side as opposed to Pep Guardiola's three consecutive semifinal losses against La Liga's finest. The Catalan was harshly considered "a failure" because of this unwanted treble -- something that needs to be addressed in future blogs, once the pain of this defeat wears off.
On a side note, the retiring Lahm and Alonso both bow out of the Champions League in bitter fashion as Bayern failed to reach the semis for first time since 2011 -- during the dark, final days of the Louis van Gaal reign. Following Borussia Dortmund's demise on Wednesday in Monaco, it's also the first time since 2009 that a German side hasn't qualified for the last four.
But Bayern have to bounce back, dust themselves off and defend their bare minimum target of their domestic double. Mainz must be licking their lips in anticipation at the amount of injuries, especially considering the fact that the relegation-threatened Rheinhessen side are the last team to beat Bayern in their Allianz Arena fortress in the Bundesliga.
Since losing to Mainz in March of last year, Bayern have racked up 61 goals in 19 subsequent games (3.2 average per game), winning their past four by 21-1, including a 4-1 romp against Dortmund, who they host on Wednesday in the last four of the German Cup.
To add insult to injury, Neuer is out for the rest of the season after suffering a fracture on Tuesday. However, Bayern at least can boast a decent enough backup in Sven Ulreich to plug the gap. But the same cannot be said for Lewandowski, who left the field on 88 minutes clearly still feeling his shoulder. With an eight-point lead in the Bundesliga, but goalless in two of their past three league games, it will be interesting to see if Bayern wheel out the normally so injury-resistant Pole for Saturday's home game.
Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng both played brilliantly through the pain barrier in midweek. Unfortunately, Hummels literally hobbled onto the team coach in Madrid with a sore hip, and Boateng was also clearly struggling during the latter stages in midweek. Record signing Martinez also seems certain to miss the Mainz clash with a muscle problem suffered at Leverkusen last weekend.
As injuries mount at the worst possible time, just as they did under Guardiola, we might see emergency central defensive partnership of Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba entrusted with keeping Mainz quiet -- a task they performed so capably together last season.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.