Real Madrid's progress to this season's Champions League final past Bayern Munich, 4-3 on aggregate after another controversial thriller at the Bernabeu, was due to the favour of biased officiating, superheroes Karim Benzema and Keylor Navas, or Lady Luck herself, depending on your Spanish or Catalan media outlet of choice this morning.
"'That's how Madrid win,' shouted the Bernabeu when they saw [referee Cuneyt] Cakir, a lifelong friend, signal from the pitch what was just the latest act of villainy on the way to Kiev. All good, all correct. All nicely wrapped up. Football remains this sport in which 11 play 11, and the referee always errs in favour of Madrid."
"Kiev is written with K. Like Karim. Like Keylor. The building blocks from which Real Madrid qualified yesterday for their third consecutive Champions League final. A key day, a day when Madrid could not fail, the Frenchman and the Costa Rican, always doubted, put on their superhero costumes to sign for memorable performances in the two penalty areas. Two from two Benzema. Four great saves from the Tico, who stood and resisted Bayern's final push."
"There was effort, courage and good fortune. Fortune that Cakir did not see Marcelo's hand before half-time, and more luck again when, on the return, Tolisso passed the ball to his goalkeeper, who first thought to pick it up, then remembered he couldn't, then tied himself up in knots. Not even the 2-1 got Bayern down, they left 22 shots, 11 on target, 11 corners, and 60% possession. A great game, with no prize. Zidane's '[lucky] flower', the magic of Champions League nights at the Bernabeu, the inspiration of Benzema, the reflexes of Keylor... that is how Madrid qualified for Kiev, suffering horribly."
La portada del diario Mundo Deportivo de mañana... UN CLÁSICO. pic.twitter.com/OGK06isPps— El 10 (@el10blaugrana) May 1, 2018
"They also did not want to see when Sergio Ramos steamrolled Robert Lewandowski inside the area, after the Pole got ahead of him to control the ball. Madrid had already counted on the invaluable help of the English official Michael Oliver in the famous penalty by Mehdi Benatia on Lucas Vazquez to qualify from the quarter-finals... If Benatia's challenge [for Juventus in quarter-final] was a penalty, Sergio Ramos' one was even clearer.... Against Bayern, Los Blancos had their usual little bit of help."
Después de la muerte no hay nada, salvo el Real Madrid. Hay que recordarlo porque la victoria trastorna: lo que se está haciendo en los últimos cuatro años es normal porque lo hacen ellos. Por @manueljabois https://t.co/in6B0pqqxR— EL PAÍS Deportes (@elpais_deportes) May 2, 2018
"They died twice. They could have died more, and they never died. Not against Bayern Munich, who skewered them in the first leg and the return, punishing terribly both sides of Madrid's defence, and scoring after three minutes at a Bernabeu to let loose the ghosts of Juventus and freeze the stadium. And nevertheless, with a formidable team who have learned to win through suffering that it seems they know no other way, Madrid overcome the goal, overcome the pressure, overcame a death foretold."
⚽ El destino elige al Real Madrid en la Championshttps://t.co/Il8RDHr57C— EL MUNDO Deportes (@ElMundoDeportes) May 1, 2018
"Madrid is in Kiev, we pray, o Lord. Or if not a superior being, then it was destiny who has fallen in love with a team who wins still without having the favour of the damsel who is the ball. They all court her, but she is not for everyone. Bayern is the latest to be scorned. The Champions Ball arrived, and Madrid behaved like an irresistible Don Juan. There was suffering, there were tears, but, in the end, the indiscretions were forgiven. How can they not love someone who can be Champion of Europe a 13th time."
"The facts are brutal. Bayern without a win against Real in seven games. Five consecutive exits against Spanish teams. But Bayern said goodbye with a lot of passion and fighting spirit. Respect for a strong performance. But what led to the exit other than the handball, not seen by the referee? Individual mistakes in defense. Rafinha's blunder leading to the 2-1 in the first leg, and now it was Ulreich of all players. After his excellent season. What do Bayern lack to repeat the 2013 Treble? Lewandowski, Muller and Ribery all failed to score against Real's weak defense, and despite their undoubted qualities. Should the Bayern bosses decide to spend big this summer, they should go for a goal getter. Even though a player improving Bayern would cost at least €80 million."
"What does it mean to better? Does having more ball and creating more chances really mean the team is better? Or does turning less chances into more goals mean you're the better side? Or does committing fewer mistakes instead of doing more things right mean you're better? And where is the fine line between bad luck and failure? To score when it really matters is the difference between a good and a very good team, between a good and a very good striker. The good striker hesitates that tiny bit too long, turns into the wrong direction, makes the wrong decision. The very good striker gets that stupid ball over the line. Thus, there will be discussions about Robert Lewandowski. [...] When it matters most in those damned weeks in spring, he lacks that last bit. Nobody is more Bayern Munich right now than Robert Lewandowski."
"C Bayern have exited Champions League at the semi-final stage once again, for the fourth time in five years, but it was never as thrilling and close like this time. It was a great night at the Santiago Bernabeu. The big question was: Why is that big white team through again? And why did the great red team crash out again? Because it was true what Muller said. Ulreich made mistakes, but the overwriting theme was that FC Bayern should have reached the final in spite of them."
"Again, Bayern bow out with applause. But all the commendatory and encouraging words won't heal any wounds. Munich want wins, successes and trophies. And most of all they want the Champions League trophy. Is it coincidence that they are getting closer in their defeats statistically? A question of millimetres, hundredths of a second - luck or bad luck? Or is it a drift when Real have won the cup three times in the last four years, and are now aiming for a third consecutive win?[...] Robert Lewandowski, who joined Bayern to win that trophy there, has contributed too few goals in the knockout stages given the class he has shown in Bundesliga. But Muller also wasn't on a run in the two semi-final legs this year and scored a total of three only in the competition."
"Robert Lewandowski was disappointing once again. He was bustling, sure, but he remained without a goal in the two legs. Bayern depend on his goals. That he wasn't in top form, that's one reason for the exit. Another one is the lack of quality in the depth of the squad. It was Rafinha in the first leg, and Tolisso and Ulreich in the second leg. The big mistakes made the difference."