UEFA Champions League Final 2014: La Decima for Real Madrid
Let’s talk about Uefa Champions League Final 2014, when Florentino Perez‘s dream became true: he succeeded in wining the 10th Champions Cup/Champions League trophy. I am not going to analyze the match because this was done by millions of journalists around the globe. I will focus on the winning spirit of Sergio Ramos’ teammates, being able mentally and physically to overturn 0-1 and win in extra times with 4-1.
2014 UEFA Champions League Final was the first such event in which 2 teams from the same city. That was more or less the only thing that those football teams shared. On the other hand, it was a match when two antithetic philosophies collided: on one part was the super spender Real Madrid, on the other part was the super seller Atletico Madrid. Real Madrid philosophy is to create an entire galaxy of superstars, for which top dollars have been paid (only for Gareth Bale they paid around €100 million). Carlo Ancelotti replaced Jose Mourinho and struggled to impose his style: an attacking possession approach. Real Madrid has been trying for 12 years to reach another final in order to complete their Decima.
On the other hand, Atletico had a different management style. Atletico Madrid relegated in Secunda Division and recorded a huge debt in early 2000s. As a result, Atletico changed everything in order to maintain a healthy balance sheet. They promoted in Primera Division after 2 years and decided to focus on promoting youngsters and selling them for record sums (see the examples of Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguerro and Radamel Falcao). The current performances of Los Colchoneros are the due to Diego Simeone’s style. Simeone found Atletico on the 10th position in the winter of 2011/2012 season, but managed to transform the team and win Europa League. It followed an astonishing victory against Chelsea in Supercup. Atletico transformed itself in a hard working team, with devastating counters. Many specialists consider that Atletico was the team with the best movement without the ball in 2013/2014 UEFA Champions League.
Tiago defined Atletico’s core philosophy, not only for UEFA Champions League Final: a hard working team created around Simeone’s volcanic spirit. Both teams made sacrifices in order to be able to align the best possible starting 11: the magic recovery of Diego Costa, Cristiano Ronaldo’s fitness problems, Khedira’s injury recovery and fitness issues, Arda Turan’s tears after being injured during the match with Barcelona. Atletico was again in UEFA Champions League Final after 40 long years, while Real was aiming to become the Queen of Europe for the 10th time.
Unfortunately, Diego Costa did not make it more than 10 minutes and Atletico lost their main goalscorer. His strong will could not overcome the injury pains.
Diego Godin seems to be a specialist of scoring from set pieces in important matches. His header reminded of the previous week scenario in which Barcelona lost La Liga because of Godin’s header.
However, Real Madrid is a totally different team than Barcelona, which seems to end a glorious cycle. Los Blancos put constant pressure on Courtois’ post in the last 30 minutes. They believed in their chance till the last moment, they fought relentlessly to score. However, Cristiano Ronaldo had a modest appearance, as well as Benzema, while Gareth Bale had some attempts. Sergio Ramos was again the decisive man, the same man who qualified Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final with his goals against Bayern Munich. Sergio Ramos proved that he is a real leader, a man who do not surrender and his header unleashed the force of the superstars galaxy. Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Ronaldo executed a wounded opponent in the extra time and Real Madrid fulfilled its long lasting dream to complete La Decima.
Atletico was stunned by Ramos’ late goal and lost their morale. Atletico did not have to power to raise up during extra time. Ramos’ goal was no only a morale boost, but it also seemed a fitness and stamina boost. Real had the power to clinically execute a groggy Atletico.
2014 UEFA Champions League Final was not a football show, but more a demonstration of strong will, hard work and never give up idea. We will remember Koke’s relentless sprints, Ramos’ dedication and leadership, Marcelos’ surprising appearances. It was a fight between two strong wills, but one managed to recover from its ashes and finish en fanfare. The fighting spirit of both teams and drama reminded of another UEFA Champions League Final between Liverpool and AC Milan.