Yes, Real Madrid have won the champions league for a record-extending eleventh time with a 5-3 win in penalties as the score had been tied at 1-1 after extra time. Winning a trophy which has managed to elude top clubs like Atletico Madrid and Arsenal (pains me to say it as an Arsenal fan) and that too with such regularity just shows us how high Real Madrid are placed in the hierarchy of the ‘footballing world’.
On this occasion, though, it took a combination of skill and luck for them to grind out a win. Credit to Atletico for being such stiff competitors and taking the battle down to the wire.
Let’s take a look what all played a major role in helping Real cement the win
Gareth Bale’s mazy dribbles
With pace to burn and excellent dribbling ability he’s a valuable asset to Real which is exactly what he exhibited in the final. He provided the assist with a flick-on for Sergio Ramos’ opener and frequently managed to penetrate the Atletico defence.
He ran circles around the defenders and proved himself to be a bigger nuisance than what Atletico could afford to handle. He deserves to be more than just an underling to Cristiano Ronaldo. Or a better hairstyle, at least.
Luka Modric’s panache
Firmly established as one of the top playmakers in the world, Modric demonstrated just what he can do at the peak of his powers. Few can control the tempo of a match like he can.
His weaving of intricate passes with such elegance was a joy to watch. His pin point passing helped Real dominate the first half and take an early lead.
Sergio Ramos’ finishing?!
It’s rare for a defender to score in a Champions league final, but don’t tell Ramos that. He just did it again, thus becoming the first defender in history to score in two champions league finals.
Ramos is a solid defender, no doubt, but his knack for scoring on such lofty occasions just makes him all the more paramount to the Madrid squad.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s expertise at penalties
Every Real win is incomplete without the heroics of its blue eyed boy. Though he failed to contribute much to the open play, there was almost no doubt in the minds of the entire population of viewers that Ronaldo would dispatch that winning penalty.
And he did so with style, placing it in the top corner and ensuring his club win another Champions league.
Antoine Griezmann’s penalty miss
Griezmann missed a golden chance to equalize on the 48th minute. A 1-1 score at that point of time could have resulted in the match taking a completely different route. As a player myself, I understand the pressure of taking a penalty but I’ve always been taught to, at least, hit the target and if the keeper saves it then well done to him.
He ended up hitting the bar even though the keeper had guessed it wrong. The miss cost his team dearly.
Juanfran’s penalty miss (yes, another one)
Just how hard is it for a professional player to keep the ball inside the frame? Pretty hard, it seems, as Juanfran followed the footsteps of Griezmann and hit the post during the shootouts.
His miss allowed Ronaldo to take the winning penalty and he does not need a second invitation.
Quite a few of Atletico’s players had a decent match. Amongst them, it was the winger who stood out. His excellent second half display and goal acted as a catalyst for an Atletico comeback. Not only that, he got a kiss from his girlfriend for scoring. Pretty good incentive if you ask me.
The ability of the twenty two-year-old to stand up and make himself count on such a colossal stage could prove to be a silver lining for Atletico.
Pepe’s dives were abominable. A man who has done all but murder players on the field acting like the world was coming to an end on the slightest touch was shameful to say the least. And those ugly expressions did not help his already ‘beautiful’ face. Still a better actor than Salman Khan, I suppose.
Legend says that Pepe once pestered the referee to take back a yellow card because the player he tackled was still alive. Don’t worry, Pepe, we’re with you. (not)
Mark Clattenburg’s reactions
I admit, Clattenburg’s reaction to Pepe’s dive had me in splits. He might have won over the internet with his hilarious reactions but it still does not save his performance.
He awarded a very questionable penalty to Atletico which, in my opinion, was wrongly given.
The finale was intense with both teams neck to neck and refusing to give each other any opportunities of grabbing a win. On any other day, it could have easily been an Atletico win but it wasn’t to be.
Congratulations, Real Madrid!
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