Bayern Munich's penalty shootout victory over Real Madrid in today's Champions League semifinal was thrilling theater, but the lead actors certainly bricked the final scene.
Who knew the world's best players would produce such ugliness 12 yards from goal?
Bayern advanced to the final by defeating Real in in the shootout, 3-1, after the teams finished 210 minutes of play tied 3-3 on aggregate. Bastian Schweinsteiger's final kick sent the German side into the championship, which meant Spain's best would be staying home for Champions League final. Chelsea had upset Barcelona the day before, setting up a final in which one of the teams (Bayern) would be playing in its home stadium (Allianz Arena) for the first time.
The players who kicked before Schweinsteiger and tasked with handling an ungodly amount of pressure, were hardly heroic. Ronaldo and Kaka missed Real Madrid's first two attempts -- on identical shots well inside the left post that Manuel Neuer pushed aside. Bayern took a 2-0 lead on goals by David Alaba and Mario Gomez. Gomez's kick looked exactly like those from Ronaldo and Kaka, but Iker Casillas didn't guess as well as his German counterpart.
Bayern had a comfortable lead and all the momentum, but Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm gave it back on a pair of misses sandwiched around a goal by Real's Xabi Alonso. Lahm, like Ronaldo, is considered one of the best in the world at his position (right back), but his penalty kick failed to impress anyone.
Real was suddenly back in it, but Sergio Ramos took them out of it immediately when he sailed his shot well over the bar. Of the nine players who stepped up to the spot, only Alaba and Schweinsteiger really executed with purpose. The most surprising gaffe came off the boot of Ronaldo, who had converted 26 of his previous 27 attempts for Madrid.
B -- Alaba -- GOAL -- lower right
R -- Ronaldo -- MISS -- saved, lower left
B -- Gomez -- GOAL -- lower left
R -- Kaka -- MISS -- saved, lower left
B -- Kroos -- MISS -- saved, lower right
R -- Alonso -- GOAL -- middle
B -- Lahm -- MISS -- saved, middle
R -- Ramos -- MISS -- high
B -- Schweinsteiger -- GOAL -- left