The REAL Madrid
On a night when naivety, end to end action and tears was a common recurrence, the sight of Sergio Ramos lifting his second Champions League trophy in two years was a joy to behold.
The calls of offside for Sergio Ramos’ goal in the 15th minute seemed uncalled for. It was a tough decision, one that birthed debate in every pub and bar due to the technicality and nature of the finish.
Il Generale became the first defender to score in two Champions League finals, a record no one else have. A record thoroughly deserved.
The performance of the team epitomized he himself; often reckless, passionate and akin to a warrior. Perfect examples were the last ditch tackles from himself and Danilo while Gareth Bale’s wastefulness thankfully didn’t match up to Antoinne Griezmann’s (the man who missed boat loads of opportunities including a penalty).
REAL Madrid rode their luck, a factor which many have said aided them to the title. But it should be noted that luck itself is the most important variant a champion needs, no matter how great the team is.
Just ask Pep Guardiola’s Bayern, who have taken football to another level but were deprived of Europe’s big crown or Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool who could have being 4-nil up at half time in the Europa League final but had three calls go against them before crumbling like a pack of cards.
Or better still, how lucky could Man United get than their FA Cup success against Crystal Palace?
Attributing the win to luck would be undermining the fantastic job of Zinedine Zidane, who has transformed a team in shambles to Champions League winners.
The Frenchman was seen as a gamble by most but not by Florentino Perez, who saw him as their own version of Pep Guardiola… epitomizing all that the club means.
It was evident in the penalty shootout as the players tucked everyone away Zizou-style: calm, cool and in a classy way. It was a reflection of his persona, the proof that he had helped them all develop as a group.
The decision to award a penalty against Kepler Lima Pepe, a player who had put in a flawless performance (and some acting too) seemed totally wrong. Not because of the challenge, but because he had done everything so right, you could hardly find him wrong.
This was a reflection of Madrid’s defensive performance. They did everything so right with Marcelo patrolling the left flank like it was his property… practically making the team not feel the lack of fitness by the insured thigh of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The build up to the game was littered with news of CR7’s thigh injury sustained on Tuesday in a collision with Kiko Casilla, He silenced all of them with that winning spot kick at a time when some could have crumbled; a situation he had found himself in before… and failed.
The talk of him rising to the occasion and deciding a final was quashed with critics pointing out that he was missing for long periods in the game. However, you can only ask yourself what you mean when Cristiano put in a selfless performance.
His absence in attack was compensated with his occupation of defensive spaces. Besides, his presence alone was enough to unsettle the defence. Many would forget he played a part in the two chances his team had against the run of play, passing the ball when the Old Cristiano would have gone for goal.
It was the night on which the REAL Madrid stood up and showed their class. It was perhaps only befitting that Real’s only victory this season against their rivals would come on the biggest stage.
A trend that begun in 2014 is continuing and it can only signal that even though Zinedine Zidane is still a young manager, he has the markings of a great one.
P.S: It would be inappropriate to not mention the metitorious services rendered by Toni Kross and Luka Modric. They were TOO MUCH for A. Madrid to handle. Luka was so fluid, he rarely misplaced his pass while Toni Kross and Casemiro kept the balance.
Luckily, the trophy is now in it’s rightful place: the REAL trophy room in Madrid (not the other one). Looking back, I’m thankful Karim Benzema’s terrible display did not overshadow Gareth Bale’s amazing work ethic and, more importantly, DID NOT cost us our #UnLaDecima.
Follow Tosin on twitter @teetunez