Much attention in the week just ended has been on the new European champions Real Madrid and rightly so as the Spanish giants bagged a record 11th European title.
It was not so much of a surprise when Los Blancos won the title in Milan over city rival Atletico Madrid. Perhaps the only stat that most didn’t expect was that the underdogs in the match, Atleti, would force the match to penalties.
Real Madrid might have been lucky at some point in the tournament, with the draws they got, especially after negotiating their way through the group stages but they did their job well and thoroughly deserved the title.
Four times in the Champions League, they managed to score three or more goals in a game with star man Cristiano Ronaldo scoring hat tricks on two occasions and four goals once – in the 8 – 0 rout of Malmo FF.
The team started off their campaign with Rafa Benitez but he fell out along the way after a slump midway through the season which saw the management’s patience run out as title rivals Barcelona soared while Real struggled domestically.
For much of this year, Real Madrid knew their real chance at silverware lay in the Champions League and gave their best at it, especially after being dumped out of the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player.
Though they managed to give a good push in the La Liga, contending for the title until the last day after closing a 13 – point gap to just one point, Real never seemed to put a foot wrong in the Champions League, except for the quarter final match against Wolfsburg.
Real were 0 – 2 losers in Germany but realized their mistakes and rectified at the first available chance.
The Spanish giants’ mettle was also well pronounced in their attacking success rate, averaging a little over two goals per game in the 13 matches they took part in. The champions scored a total of 28 goals in the title – winning run.
Their goal scoring record was only bettered by semifinalists, Bayern Munich who scored 30 in 12 matches and the champions have Cristiano Ronaldo to thank for their European threat going forward in the season.
Ronaldo netted 16 of the 28 goals and yet again finished the season as the top scorer in the competition.
Real were also tops defensively, keeping 10 clean sheets in 13 matches and the arrival of Zidane, who mostly deployed Casemiro and Toni Kroos in central midfield bettered their defensive output.
Under Zidane Real has been a team hard to score against. They kept five clean sheets in his seven Champions League games in charge and finished the tournament with the best defensive record.
In the final Real only allowed four shots on target in 120 minutes despite their city rivals dominating possession from 45 minutes onwards.
Much as the season will go down as the most painful for Atleti, the winners will cherish it all the way as it was thoroughly deserved.