12- years have past since Zinedine Zidane stroked home the most sublime of volleys to beat Bayer Leverkusen, and claim Real Madrid's ninth Champions League title. Madrid's crowning glory left them on nine Champions League wins, two clear of nearest rivals Milan, and one short of la decima.
Eleven seasons have past, and the obsession over wining the elusive tenth Champions League of Real Madrid's history finally has a chance to be put to bed. Real Madrid have incredibly spent almost £1 billion on playing staff in order to deliver the title, but so far the likes of Beckham, Ronaldo, Kaka, Robben and Cannavaro have all failed to lead the club to glory.
It is not only players that have left the Bernabeu as a result of the obsession, Fabio Capello, Manuel Pellegrini and most recently Jose Mourinho, bought in for his ability to lead clubs to European glory, have been shown the exit. For Carlo Ancelotti, there is extra pressure on the final, as if Madrid fail to beat Atlético, their third place finish in La Liga will come under serious scrutiny.
Madrid have arguably placed their desire to win la decima ahead of La Liga aspirations, especially as the prospect of winning the Champions League became a reality. As Madrid hammered their way past favourites Bayern Munich, they concurrently slipped up against Valencia and Valladolid, losing ground in the title race.
Ancelotti's side, with their emphasis on breaking fast on the counter-attack, and obliterating sides with their front three of Bale, Ronaldo and Benzema, are better suited to the Champions League than La Liga. Therefore they would preferably be playing someone other than La Liga champions Atlético in the final.
Unfortunately, from the perspective of the neutral, Cristiano Ronaldo and Diego Costa will come into the game off the back of injuries. This does play into Real Madrid's hands, as in Gareth Bale, they have a player who possesses similar attributes to Ronaldo, whereas Costa's replacement would be Adrián, a polar opposite striker to the bullying Costa that has troubled both Pepe and Sergio Ramos on numerous occasions this season.
So the stage is set for Real Madrid, a historic tenth Champions League on the cards if they win, and a potential summer of turbulence and exits if they lose. Life has never been simple within the decadence of Madrid, and La Decima will be far from straightforward to procure.
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