Home News Fate and Champions League find their way towards Real Madrid, again

Fate and Champions League find their way towards Real Madrid, again

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In the end, Borussia Dortmund found out what the others before them did in a Champions League final. Atletico Madrid found out. Twice. So did Liverpool. Juventus felt it in 2017 as it had way back in 1998.

Bayer Leverkusen was met with the same fate in 2002, as did Valencia at the turn of the millennium. Their best was not going to be enough against Real Madrid.

And Real Madrid didn’t have to be at its best to win them either. A hero, invariably, stepped up or the opposition crumbles under the weight of expectations. Sergio Ramos in 2014. Zinedine Zidane in 2002. Gareth Bale in 2018 or Lloris Karius with his errors.

The underside of the crossbar or the post in 2016. Cristiano Ronaldo in 2017. Thibaut Courtois in 2022. Predrag Mijatovic in 1998. The moment which turned everything around for Real Madrid in the Champions League.

It’s first in 32 years. The night Manolo Sanchis described as the most important in Madrid’s history. It didn’t matter how they won, but they had to win it. Every year. It is an obsession.

Since 1998, Madrid has won seven further Champions League finals without a defeat. Five Champions League wins in the last decade alone. This is the most important competition for the club with 14 wins in total.

“It was almost a duty to win the competition,” Clarence Seedorf had said — the wait between la novena and la decima between 2003 and 2014 costing several careers and presidential positions.

On the night, Dortmund had just two previous Champions League final experiences to a combined 18 appearances for Madrid in the starting XI. Only the 20-year-old Jude Bellingham had never played in a final before.

For Dortmund, which came in as the overwhelming underdog to Wembley, where it suffered heartbreak in 2013, it was a fight against history, the famous white shirt and Madrid’s destiny in the Champions League.

Before kick-off, the Yellow Wall unfurled a Tifo, taunting Madrid: ‘We are back in town… to steal the crown”. But it was Madrid, again, which ruled the roost.

Before kick-off, the Yellow Wall unfurled a Tifo, taunting Madrid: ‘We are back in town… to steal the crown”. But it was Madrid, again, which ruled the roost.
| Photo Credit:
AP

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Before kick-off, the Yellow Wall unfurled a Tifo, taunting Madrid: ‘We are back in town… to steal the crown”. But it was Madrid, again, which ruled the roost.
| Photo Credit:
AP

For the better part of the game, it was Dortmund which kept knocking on the door for the opening goal. Mats Hummels had Vinicus Jr. on lockdown. Jude Bellingham, leggy and jaded on the evening, was possibly having his worst game in a Madrid shirt.

“It’s a heavy shirt,” is how Bellingham described his first year in Madrid. But he hadn’t done bad for himself. A La Liga title, being voted the player of the year in Spain and countless goals and assists, including two stoppage-time winners against Barcelona.

But, on the night, he had to do the hard job of covering every blade of grass and putting in a shift for the team.

ALSO READ: Real Madrid wins Champions League: Full List of UCL winners as Madrid beats Dortmund in summit clash

Dortmund posed plenty of problems on the counter. Karim Adeyemi was through on goal with only Thibaut Courtois to beat. Courtois, who was playing his first Champions League match of the season, rushed out and pushed Adeyemi wide.

Niclas Fulkrug hit the post in the following passage of play. The woodwork, which had helped Dortmund 12 times in the Champions League this season, was now against it.

Julian Brandt side-footed his effort off-target. But when they hit the target, it was relatively comfortable for Courtois. Dortmund’s xG figure of 1.68 was the highest in the first half of a final since 2014, yet it couldn’t go into the break a goal ahead.

Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti sported his typical nonchalant demeanour. His opposite number Edin Terzic had got the better of him in the first half. But Ancelotti and his men had been here in 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2022 and overcome the suffering.

“In the moment, you stay calm, control, calm,” Ancelotti told CBS Sports after the game.

It was a credit to Madrid too to recognise it could not be the best team on the pitch over the 90 minutes but have the belief to come back. Just like the Bayern Munich semifinal or the numerous comebacks over the years. As if fate would find its way towards Madrid again. And it did.

Madrid started the second half stronger and got a couple of chances via right-back Dani Carvajal from a corner kick and later on the volley.

Vinicius Junior (in white) scores Real Madrid’s second goal in the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.

Vinicius Junior (in white) scores Real Madrid’s second goal in the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.
| Photo Credit:
AP

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Vinicius Junior (in white) scores Real Madrid’s second goal in the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.
| Photo Credit:
AP

The opening would come once again in the 74th minute, when Toni Kroos, who had accurately passed the ball (94% pass accuracy in 464 previous games), for the last 10 years, stepped up for the corner again in his final game in a Madrid shirt.

His cross was met by Carvajal, the smallest man on the field, jumping ahead of Fulkrug, to turn the ball into the net. A familiar sense of doom fell upon Dortmund. Marco Reus, another German, who was aiming to sign off on a high with Dortmund, saw his farewell come crashing down.

RELATED: Marco Reus, a Dortmund legend, eyes European crown in his last dance with Yellow and Black

Bellingham had the chance to seal it three minutes later but was let down by a poor first touch. But he would have his say, courtesy of a gift from Ian Maatsen. Bellingham had the simple job of finding Vinicus, who slotted it past Gregor Kobel to wrap up no. 15.

Kroos, who craved the ‘perfect ending’, got his wish as he soaked in the adulation when he was subbed off for his midfield partner of 10 years Luka Modric in the 86th minute.

Together with Carvajal and Nacho Fernandez, they joined another Madrid great Paco Gento in equalling the number of six European Cup wins.

“It seems we are not able to lose these games,” Kroos joked afterwards, before adding, “There is quality of course, but the mentality is crazy. To be the worst team, but win these games. It’s a lot of believing, that separates the club from the rest.”

RELATED: Dortmund vs Real Madrid: Toni Kroos sets record in Champions League final

Ancelotti tried his best to explain it too. “It seems normal, but it’s not normal. It’s something special to be able to win six Champions League in 10 years,” said the Italian.

Before kick-off, the Yellow Wall unfurled a Tifo, taunting Madrid: ‘We are back in town… to steal the crown”. But in the battle of nerves against the record champion in London on Saturday night, Dortmund’s fate ended like several other contenders who came in front of Madrid.

The European Cup and the Champions League were always Madrid’s to own.



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