Your new champions of Europe once again is Real Madrid for an incredible third time in four years, the first team to retain the Champions League in its current format, quite the incredible feat.
In what turned out to be a fairly one sided final, Real showed that they had much more class than an ultimately underwhelming Juventus. Oddly enough if you had told me at half time that Real would win the game 4-1 and it wouldn’t flatter them whatsoever I would have said that they were being silly, yet that’s what ended up happening.
I openly didn’t think that this Real team was good enough to retain the Champions League, not that this is a bad team but with so many great teams preceding it who failed to retain the championship I didn’t think this team had the quality required, clearly I was wrong. I also didn’t think Zidane was up to much as a manager and although I still have my doubts it’s hard to argue against what he has won in his first two seasons as a manager, already a lifetime of achievement and he’s not even had two full seasons, unbelievable achievement.
The game itself was an odd one, Juventus were easily the better team in the early part of the game only for Ronaldo to score against the run of play, Juve then showed great resilience as Mandzukic equalised not long after. The half was fairly level after that with Juve slightly edging the play and I’m sure they would have been disappointed to only be going in level. Yet the Juve team who went in at the half wasn’t the team which came out in the second.
The second half was all Madrid, they were camped in the Juventus final third up until Casemiro’s goal and with their heads down Juve got hit with the sucker punch of Ronaldo’s second soon after and the game was over. The camera panned to Buffon after the third goal and it looked like a man who knew the game was over, yet there was still half an hour left to play, it showed weak mentality from Juventus.
I struggle to think of a Real player who didn’t show up for the final, Casemiro killed so many attacks, Modric and Kroos ran the show, Marcelo was an unstoppable force in the second half and Ronaldo was the man of the moment. Sergio Ramos was as pathetic as ever as he got his fellow professional sent off with some typical play acting. I don’t care if he stood on your foot accidentally or not, I just don’t understand why at 3-1 up in a game which you’ve all but won he felt the need to do what he did, shows a lack of class, I’m sure he’ll have been crying into his winner’s medal ever since.
Ronaldo received the man of the match which I can understand because the first goal against the run of play allowed Real to go in level at the half and his second effectively killed the game, he was the talisman and a difference maker, without him Real probably don’t win in regular time, however despite all of that I would have given it to Modric who I thought was spectacular throughout.
In contrast I struggle to think of a Juventus player who showed up for this match. Yes they were unfortunate for Real’s first two goals, however their lack of resilience was downright pathetic. I feel Asensio’s goal was the perfect picture of what was wrong with Juve’s performance and everything which was right with Real’s, one team showed desire the other just wasn’t up to it.
I also can’t help but question someone like Higuain, with the transfer fee which was paid for him you expect more, yes he was isolated in the second half, however he was anonymous throughout and he looks a good few stone overweight. He needs to get his finger out his arse, you’re a professional sportsmen for fuck sake, stop eating so much.
Juventus are a team who have dominated Italian football for the last number of years, they also made the Champions League final only two years ago, yet in the second half they looked like a team who the game was too big for. Maybe it is that Juventus aren’t quite as good as people thought or maybe the quality of Italian football is letting them down, so that when they come up against a tricky opponent they just can’t cope, either way it was peculiar to see such a successful Italian side, so often known for their tactics and intelligence, flat out played off the pitch.
To win three of the last four Champions League’s is an outstanding achievement, it puts this Real Madrid team up along with some of the absolute greats, yet maybe unfairly I just don’t see it. The achievement is phenomenal, however I don’t see this as a phenomenal team. For instance I don’t see this Real team as being better than the Barcelona team of five years ago, yet their achievements over these four years are better.
I don’t think it’s fair to say that this Real Madrid team is a one man team, however to be honest they aren’t too far off it, it just happens that they have one of the greatest footballers ever in their midst who shows up when they most need him. Just look at this years competition and you will see the impact Ronaldo has had for Real, he was the difference maker in the quarters, semis and final and although Real have a number of good players, without Ronaldo they wouldn’t have made history over the last few years.
Real Madrid are deserving champions this year and they will always go down as the first team to retain the Champions League. They came into a final against a team high on confidence who felt fate was on their side, the story had already been written of the greatest keeper of all time winning the one trophy he’s missing in the twilight of his career and they stomped all over it, dominating a Juventus team which was thought to be defensively astute and mentally strong, Madrid made them look the opposite.
So what did you think of the Champions League final? Is this Madrid team one of the greatest ever? Has Ronaldo pushed himself to the pinnacle of the greatest European player of all time? Will Buffon ever get to win the Champions League? Leave a comment and share those thoughts!