Monday - Sep 25, 2017

Real Madrid leave it very, very late to win their ‘La Decima’

Real Madrid leave it very, very late to win their 'La Decima'

Anyone looking at the scoreline of this year’s Champions League final would imagine a particularly one-sided victory for Real, something which is very far from the truth.

Atletico looked like they would come out on top in the first ever Champions League derby clash against Real, holding out well despite tired legs till Sergio Ramos popped up in with just ninety seconds of injury time to score a late equalizer, and keep Le Meringue’s hopes alive of winning the much coveted the title for the tenth time in their history.

Before the match got underway at the Luz stadium, in Lisbon, Portugal on Saturday evening, all the facts and statistics pointed to an easy win for Real, fielding what is probably the most expensively assembled team against one whose total playing staff cost just one quarter of what Gareth Bale did when he joined Real Madrid in the close season.

Waving facts and figures have failed to scare off Atletico and their charismatic and driven manager Diego Simeone all season long with the club having a really remarkable season winning La Liga and getting as far as the final itself for the first time in decades being an amazing achievement, bowing down to no-one along the way.

Even before the match kicked off Simeone was faced with a dilemma regarding the fitness levels of his key striker Diego Costa who was carrying a hamstring injury from Atletico’s previous match against Barcelona, which they drew to win La Liga for the first time in 18 years, despite Costa going off early in the match.

Real also had to do without one of their most important players, Xabi Alonso with manager Carlo Ancelotti also forced to take a gamble on the fitness of Sami Khedira although the German midfielder had been almost completely out of action for six months after knee ligament injury.

Ancelotti’s risk proved to be a lot more sensible and calculated than Simeone’s, when just nine minutes after kick-off as a Costa’s injury began to have its effect and he was immediately replaced by Adrian Lopez. Despite the obvious setback, Atletico Madrid seemed to be well in control, closing down Real at every opportunity, and generally neutralizing the twin threats of Cristiano Ronaldo on the right and Gareth Bale on the left, or the second most expensive and most expensive players in the world, in that order.

Ultimately it was no surprise when Diego Godin capitalized on an uncommon error from Iker Casillas Real’s veteran goalkeeper to give Atletico a first-half lead. In the second half, Atletico never looked too uncomfortable, despite the introduction of livewire right back Marcello on the right flank, where he succeeded in inspiring both Angel Di Maria and Christiano Ronaldo to greater things.

With Atletico obviously tiring Real pressed forward with all the power that is unlikely to be broken in modern times their disposal, and it eventually paid off when Sergio Ramos, who scored twice in the semi-finals against Bayern Munich, did the job again rising to power head a pinpoint corner from Luka Modric into the corner of the net.

As extra time got underway, Atletico had little left to offer, and the effect of that early substitution was never more felt when Atletico’s star defender JuanFran was injured, but with all the substitutes used up by that time, had to remain on the field.

Even then Atletico still appeared capable of holding on to a penalty kick shootout, until Angel Di Maria broke down the right to fire in a shot which goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could only palm into the air, leaving Gareth Bale to put Real into the lead with a relatively easy header, with 11 minutes left on the clock.

After that it was one-way traffic with hyperactive substitute Marcelo adding a third, and the final nail in the coffin coming from Cristiano Ronaldo, who failed to put on a star performance on the night, given a chance to add to his goalscoring record for a single season slotting home a well taken penalty after being fouled by Gabi. CR ended the season’s European Champions League campaign with a total of 17 goals, a record that is unlikely to be broken in modern times, and even more satisfying considering that he achieves this remarkable goal in the stadium that he began his career as a precocious teenager with Sporting Lisbon.

As the final whistle eventually began to approach, Simeone, as he is known to do the game completely lost his composure, racing onto the playing field to confront Real’s Raphael Varane and was dismissed by the referee.

In stark contrast Real coach Carlo Ancelotti was not only able to enjoy the Real’s victory on the night, but also taking its place alongside the late, great Bob Paisley, the former Liverpool manager, to coach a European club championship three times as well as having a moment twice as a player and twice as a manager, both with AC Milan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.