Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Madrid Dominate Europe Yet Again

The Champions League Final has been and gone and with that, the curtain has closed on another season of football in Europe. Real Madrid once again walked away with Old Big Ears (The European Cup) breaking their own record and now setting the Spanish giant’s total of wins in the competition to an unprecedented fifteen times.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Borussia Dortmund, as the club just can’t seem to take that final step in the Champions League and lift the trophy for a second time. 1997 seems a long time ago now, and to be fair I suppose it is! Anyway, let’s take a look at some of the key points of last night’s action in what ended up being a fantastic game of football.

First Half: Dortmund’s Dont Take Their Chances

Borussia Dortmund, of course, came into this fixture as the underdogs, but they started the match with a sense of purpose and really took the game to Real Madrid. The German side was creating numerous chances in the first period but failed to convert them. They could have had two or three goals in that first half but just lacked that extra cutting edge with their finishing.

Julian Ryerson, Dortmund’s right-back, successfully kept Vinicius Junior in check for much of the first half, and matters got worse for Vinicius Junior as he then went into the book for a foul on the Goalkeeper. It was a harsh yellow in my opinion, but the referee was handing out bizarre yellow cards to both teams all evening. Dortmund had their best opportunities when Karim Adeyemi missed a one-on-one against Thibaut Courtois, and Niclas Fullkrug’s shot hit the inside of the post but didn’t go in. Fullkrug’s effort may well have been ruled out for offence though if it has crossed the line.

Second Half: Madrid Do What They Do In Cup Finals

Madrid came out stronger in the second half, and it was clear they had adjusted a few things. Ancelotti is a top-class manager and it was pretty much a given he would shake things up and Los Blancos would come out much improved after a quiet first half.

Vinícius Júnior finally got going and showed the world his skill with an outrageous nutmeg on Ryerson. The breakthrough finally came off a set-piece when Dani Carvajal scored with a glancing header from a Toni Kroos corner, putting Madrid ahead. After this goal, Dortmund’s heads seemed to drop. They could not regain control of the midfield after the goal went in and Madrid continued to press. Other than a few breakaway counterattacks from the German side most of the game after Madrid took the lead was played in Dortmund’s half. Jude Bellingham and Eduardo Camavinga had efforts saved by Gregor Kobel, but it was Vinícius who sealed the win for Madrid. A loose pass from Ian Maatsen allowed Bellingham to set up Vinícius for the second goal, it wasn’t the cleanest strike as the ball seemed to cannon off the ground first and Kobel did manage to get his hands to it, but that was it game, set and match. Dortmund thought they had pulled one back to make the last few minutes of the game more interesting, but they were correctly denied by the offside flag.

Retirement For Some And Records Broken

This win was historic for several Madrid players and the manager. Carlo Ancelotti secured his fifth Champions League title as a manager, a record achievement. Acelotti also has two as a player making it seven Champions League titles in total. For players like Carvajal, Nacho, Kroos, and Modric, it was their sixth title, equaling Paco Gento’s record. Toni Kroos, in his final club match, received a standing ovation when substituted for Luka Modric. His contribution was crucial, bagging the assist that led to Carvajal’s goal and nearly scoring from a free-kick himself.

So yet again Real Madrid are champions of Europe. I am unsure how it is going to be possible to stop them over the next few seasons. They seem to be set up for a decade of dominance. Kylan Mbappe is on his way to The Burnabeu as well, and with him and Vinny Junior on the same side, I pray for opposition defences. Europe is in trouble.