It was a strong ending to the UEFA Champions League final as Juventus hosted Real Madrid at the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff.
Juventus road to the final saw them eliminate FC Porto, Barcelona and AS Monaco scoring 21 goals and conceding just 3 in the process. They kept 9 clean sheets and was the team of the moment as said by many football loving fans.
Real Madrid on the other side needed to bypass SSC Napoli, FC Bayern Munich and city rivals Atletico Madrid to reach the final. They scored 32 and conceded 17.
It was a final that was marked with a high class closing ceremony by the South Wales faithfuls and was a joy and great to watch.
Juventus last met Real Madrid in the 1998 final at Amsterdam Arena of which Real Madrid beat the Old Ladies 1-0 to win the title. It was the only final between them going into this season’s final and the White and Black Stripes club was in for a revenge.
Juventus went into the final as having lost their last 4 CL finals having lost in 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2015 while Real Madrid was in to defend the title they won last year.
The odds and almost the whole world were against Real Madrid as no club has retained the Champions League title.
Cristiano Ronaldo going into the final has scored five past Juventus goalkeeper, Gianluigi Buffon in four games he has faced him and needed to increase his tally if he was to stand any chance of surpassing Barcelona’s Lionel Messi to win the top scorer award for this season’s Champions League.
The referee for the big night was Dr. Felix Brych from Germany.
Juventus started the final on a strong foot with striker Gonzalo Higuain having two shots on target all needing the fist of Real Madrid’s goalkeeper, Keylor Navas to deny him the opening goal of the game.
Miralem Pjanic drove a drive aside the box and Navas was up to the task to also deny Juventus the lead. All was in the opening 10mins of football at Cardiff.
Real Madrid was yet to reach the opponent half but when they did, it led to the opener. A move started by Luka Modric was ended by Cristiano Ronaldo who passed to Dani Carvajal and went to find space in the box, received the resulting pass from Carvajal and slotted in past Buffon for the opening goal of the game. It was a fine goal from the Portuguese as he equalled Messi on the topscoring chart with 11 goals.
His strike also set a record in the Champions League as he became the first player in the CL era to score 3 goals in 3 finals.
If Ronaldo’s goal was fantastic, the goal at the other end from Juventus’s Mario Mandzukic was an absolute beauty.
A cross from Alex Sandro at the left side was chested onto the path of Mandzukic by Higuain who brought it up and hit an acrobatic strike to level the scores at 1-1. Juventus came in strongly in the latter part of the first half but could not make use of their chances as the half ended 1-1.
The second half was meant to be tactical as both clubs would like to finish the game in 90 mins.
Real Madrid’s manager, Zinedine Zidane made his tactics and footprint work on the night as he took over the second half and made it his own. Real Madrid was completely dominant in the second and duly scored a second via Casemiro.
Second became third as a nice workout from Modric saw him lay a cross which was expertly turned in by the man for big moments, Cristiano Ronaldo as he netted RM’s 3rd and his 12th of the season making him the top scorer of the competition for the 5th straight year. That was also his 7th strike against Buffon in 5 games and his 4th in 3 finals. This made him the holder of all records in the Champions League. He is really the Champions League.
The gloss was speared on the win as a splendid workout by Marcelo was turned in by substitute, Marco Asensio to put Real Madrid 4-1 up.
The game ended 4-1 and it was all joy for the Los Blancos as they became the first club to retain the Champions League. That was their 12th Champions League crown(Duo Decima) and Zinedine Zidane became the first manager to win the Champions League back-to-back after gaining this format since 1992/1993. Real Madrid is the only club to win the CL 6 times in 6 finals since 1992/1993 when it was changed to this format.
Congratulations to Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane. Both have written their name in the history books and will last forever.
Champions League is Real Madrid and Real Madrid is Champions League