Lisbon, Portugal’s “Cathedral” saw millions of prayers answered and dashed in 2014′s Champions League Final. Real Madrid beat their bitter cross-town enemies 4-1 but, as viewers already know, the scoreline told a big lie about the game.
Atlético Madrid came within two minutes of an unthinkable 1-0 win. Although, with the game slipping from their grasp late, Real Madrid roared back and took the match over. Now let’s see how Madristas worldwide went from their deathbeds to proverbial football heaven among other storylines.
1. Sergeant Hindsight Says Diego Costa Shouldn’t Have Started
Atlético’s target man couldn’t withstand the pain in his left leg and forced manager Diego Simeone to burn an early sub. Adrian Lopez hopped from the bench the laboring striker then disappeared as soon as he hit the pitch. Simeone’s risk came back to bite his squad in extra time as tired legs gave way to Real’s comeback.
It’s easy to say “hmmm, maybe Costa shouldn’t have suited up” given the match’s result. Yet that weird horse placenta treatment cleared the striker to train and play with the club this week. Atlético’s short bench and the absence of Arda Turan understandably forced Simeone’s hand. Costa scored 36 times in all comps this year, mind you, so the dice needed a roll.
2. Ángel Di Maria And Gareth Bale Played Through The Bullsh*t
Ángel didn’t score and Bale had some big misses. Real’s struggles as a team didn’t stop the duo from looking the best going forward, though. Di Maria proved a constant threat and drew a deck of yellow cards on Atleti’s defenders. Plus it’s only fitting for Bale to score the deciding goal off of Ángel’s deflection. Bale likely gets the game ball from pundits for breaking the derby open. However, Ángel’s definitely worthy of the nod for being such a persistent force in the final third.
3. Quality Beat
Soccer’s an unpredictable dame and the best team doesn’t always win. Viewers can’t say that tonight considering Atlético didn’t look to add to their tally in the second half. Real Madrid kept creating opportunities and, as the regular time ended, onlookers had to sense a tying goal on the horizon.
Call Atleti’s bus-parking defense heroic, bush-league or a mixture of both. They really showed audacity in their pursuit to keep Real at a bagel on a huge stage and for the second time this season. It all came crashing down once Sergio scored in the 93rd minute. His header gave Real the juice and three goals from Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo off a PK took a stressful outing into a sure trophy berth.
4. Diego Simeone and Raphaël Varane Came *this* close to being internet legends
Who knows what they said to one another? Bad sportsmanship’s awful for the kids and yadda-yadda. However, you know you wanted to see Simeone’s strike connect with Varane’s head a la Danny Ainge and Marie Elie. This post would’ve been nothing but memes if Simeone kicked as sharply as he dressed.
5. Real Madrid’s In The History Books While Atlético Madrid Looks At History Repeating
Los Bloncos locked in their tenth European Cup/Champions League trophy, “La Décima” if you’re nasty, and manager Carlos Ancelotti proved team work can make the dream work in only one season. Plus they welcome any haters of their £165+ million transfer budget this year to their latest piece of silverware. It’s scary to think Real Madrid stands to improve with more chemistry heading into next season. Except now we can look forward to endless articles of Luis Suarez linked to the world’s richest club.
Atlético, meanwhile, fades into another off season of potential exits. Diego Costa leads the way with a switch to Chelsea. Koke’s, Arda Turan’s and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’ names should float around in silly season with no definite leads right now. Another CL run’s all but certain in their future given the club’s debts. They’ve been believed to owe creditors as much as £500 million and don’t enjoy Real’s yearly revenues and war chest.
So, much like last year’s match between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, a match up of in-league rivals sees the mega-club prevail over the underdog. One can’t just say “you’ll get ‘em next year, Atlético.” Teams similar to them with small budgets, windows and revolving doors usually can’t make annual, deep CL runs. That’s the breaks when one club’s a constant threat for Europe’s biggest prize while the other has one good shot at immortality.