The stage was set for a clash of epic proportions. Not only was it the first time in the history of the UEFA Champions League that two teams from the same city were competing in the final, but it would also mean a first UCL trophy for Atletico or a 10th for bitter rivals Real Madrid.
Diego Simeone started Diego Costa despite his persistent injury while Raul Garcia filled in for the injured Arda Turan.
Real Madrid’s star studded line-up included all the usual heavyweights except Xabi Alonso, who was replaced by the able German Sami Khedira. Fabio Coentrao replaced Marcelo on the left back position.
With under 10 minutes passed, Costa was unable to continue owing to his injury; and just like in the game against Barca, Adrian had to be brought on. Despite the hindrance, Atletico were looking as tenacious as ever and the lack of Alonso was being keenly felt by the likes of Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, who had too much to do and very little support.
Owing to this, Los Rojiblancos slowly upped the ante and in the 36th minute Iker Casillas ventured off his line on a corner kick and Diego Godin headed in to score.
The game had a few skirmishes as well. Angel Di Maria was being illegally blocked off frequently on the wing while Sergio Ramos unnecessarily picked up a yellow card after unceremoniously barging into Garcia.
Meanwhile, Real’s blistering pace was testing their opponents resolve. Whenever Los Blancos were on the break, they looked threatening and Bale had a golden opportunity to score after navigating past two defenders; only to hit the ball wide from inside the box. In the second half as well, Bale hit a few clear shots wide.
As the second half wore on, Simeone looked to add defensive muscle brought on Joao Sosa, while his counterpart Ancelotti introduced Marcelo and Isco. With clear intentions, both teams played with renewed vigour. Real Madrid’s elaborate build ups were met by an impregnable and untiring Atletico defense.
Save a few long range shots and set pieces, there was very little for Courtois to do. On the other side, the few scattered chances Atletico had were although snuffed out by Real’s talented defense, yet goalkeeper Casillas looked uncharacteristically shaky and maybe Atleti could have scored.
Well they could have, but they didn’t. And at their own expense too; two minutes away from victory, Altetico Madrid had a corner to defend. But defend they didn’t. Ramos found himself with a free header which he brilliantly angled into the corner which was fatally and surprisingly undefended. As one half of the stadium erupted in joy, the players readied themselves for a gruelling 30 minutes extra time.
It was all Real Madrid from there. Tired legs were starkly evident and the lethal attack of Real brought down Atletico to its knees. As concentration snapped, Di Maria with his outstanding skill manoeuvred past the defenders and set up Bale who headed in to score. Heartbroken and frustrated, it was a downward spiral from there as the team which had won over the world with their stolid ideologies, completely lost their integrity. Marcelo scored with an unchallenged shot from outside the box and Ronaldo scored from a penalty. It was sad to see this team, which had in the first 90 minutes played with the grace and dignity that befits a champion, fall down like a pack of cards.
But the victory to Real was well deserved. They ended their long wait to clinch their 10th UCL trophy; La Decima in a season of ups and downs. It now remains to be seen, where Atletico go from here; do they pick themselves up to establish a solid foundation for the next decade or do they finish their incredible run.
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