Real Madrid became first team in modern era to win successive UCL trophies
By Visesh Rathi
Champions League- A stage where the champions participate to be the best in Europe, and to a large effect, the best in the world. On paper the finals of the latest edition promised just that, as Juventus- sixth time successive Italian champions who had just ensured a double in the domestic scenario faced Real Madrid, a team full of individual champions who had just dethroned Barcelona to reign in Spain and had been the winners of the previous edition. History suggested no team had successfully defended the trophy. But true champions rewrite history, and that is what Real Madrid set out for.
Initial exchanges saw Juventus dominate, with Higuain even stinging Navas’ gloves a couple of times, while the Galacticos unable to control the proceedings and did not even get a sniff of the goal. This was going as per the script as Juventus’ experienced defenders managed to keep Real’s attacking threat at bay. Then came the moment that would set the tone of the game as Ronaldo passed to Carvajal and scored from the return pass. Sure, it took a slight deflection, but that does not take anything away from the striker who had been a peripheral figure till then. This goal meant Juve had to go all out and they did. Just seven minutes after the opener, Higuain teed up Mandzukic, who then controlled the ball on his chest and then sent a beautiful overhead lobby that was impossible for Navas to reach, a fantastic response to This looked like the final of champions where a legend had lived up to expectations while a moment of magic restored the balance in the game. The rest of the half was a thrilling end to end game with both sides looking determined to enter the break with a lead. But the half ended with score balanced at one each and anticipation of a thrilling second half.
Second half saw Real Madrid dictate proceedings right from the beginning. Ronaldo failed to connect after a brilliant play by Marcelo, but soon Casemiro unleashed a shot that took a deflection off former Galactico, Khedira and Buffon was beaten a second time. Soon after that Madrid landed the final blow when a superb Modric crossed for Ronaldo, who in turn lost the defenders and coolly turned it past Buffon to kick off euphoric celebrations. Juventus’ body language suggested that they had already given up as Madrid completely controlled from there on, while Ronaldo looked to create history once more by being the first person to score a hattrick in UCL finals. He almost did when Marcelo again superbly crossed for him but he failed to connect. In the mean time Bale was introduced while Juve’s substitute Cuadrado was sent off with seven minutes to go. Bale almost had a sniff of goal as Ronaldo put the ball at his feet but to no effect. Towards the end, Asensio inflated the score line against already deflated Juventus, after being set up by Marcelo. Juventus had just conceded more goals in the finals than they had throughout the tournament. Madrid finished the season with La Liga, UCL and having scored in all their games. Ronaldo rose up to the big occasion again ending a tremendous year on top. This Real Madrid team was the deserved champions of the greatest stage.