On 24th May 2014, the entire footballing world came together to witness the inevitable- the 10th Champions League title of Real Madrid, which is fondly called the La Decima. A crowd of nearly 65,000 gathered at the famous Estadio de Luz in Lisbon. Waves of white spread across the stadium in anticipation. It seemed as if destiny had something special in store for the Los Blancos.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid was the only hurdle that stood between Real Madrid and the elusive 10th Champions League trophy. For Carlo Ancelotti, the task was simple yet nervous- getting the La Decima. They were entering their 13th final and had won 9 times, with their most recent one being a long 12 years ago. Ancelotti was a celebrated coach in this competition- he had already led Milan to 3 finals, winning twice. Thus, his task was to stick to his strengths and do what he does best. The Real team had a lot of superstars in their lineup- the most famous being Cristiano Ronaldo.
Atletico Madrid, managed by the then relatively inexperienced Simeone, was entering his first final as a coach and he hoped to join an illustrious group of Non-European coaches to win the Champions League. The task of stopping their city rivals from claiming continental glory was an arduous one. Yet, Simeone’s men arrived in Lisbon on the back of a La Liga title-winning campaign.
In the group stages, both teams had won a similar number of games. While Real beat defending champions Bayern Munich in the semi-final, Atletico got the better of Chelsea on aggregate.
|Real Madrid||Atletico Madrid|
|Iker Casillas ||Thibaut Courtois|
|Raphael Varane||Diego Godin|
|Fabio Coentrao||Filipe Luis|
|Luka Modric||Raul Garcia|
|Angel Di Maria||Gabi |
|Cristiano Ronaldo||David Villa|
|Karim Benzema||Diego Costa|
|Carlo Ancelotti||Diego Simeone|
Atletico started the proceedings, and the whole stadium lit up like fire. Both teams started with great determination hoping to win the championship. The first half didn’t start as it was expected as in form forward Diego Costa picked up a hamstring injury in the eighth minute. The withdrawal of the Spaniard was a huge blow given the fact that he had been instrumental in their journey so far.
The Los Blancos, too had a patchy start as they couldn’t live up to their favourites tag in the first half. A rare blunder by captain Iker Casillas gifted Atletico their goal in the final. Casillas misjudged the flight of the ball and rushed forward only to see the header from Diego Godin fly over his head. Real were stunned by their arch rivals at the outset.
The frustration and despair continued for Real as they couldn't create enough chances. With Real Madrid struggling, Ancelotti decided to ring the changes. He replaced Khedira and Coentrao with Isco and Marcelo. The tweaks changed the tempo of the game and Real started displaying some promise. However, with them still a goal down, La Decima seemed a distant dream. Yet, in the 93rd minute, Sergio Ramos rose high to throw a spanner in Atletico’s works.
Gareth Bale soon added a second in the 110th minute. A rasping strike from Marcelo doubled their advantage in the 118th minute before a penalty from Cristiano Ronaldo put the final nail in Atletico’s coffin.
With the 4-1 win, La Decima was finally achieved. Thousands of supporters experienced euphoria while Florentino Perez's joy knew no bounds. Real Madrid had done what no other team had conquered yet and in the process, they became heroes for millions of fans.