UEFA Champions League final: Real Madrid 1-1 (5-3 pens.) Atletico Madrid - Five Talking Points

Real Madrid lift La Undecima

It was Deja Vu for Atletico Madrid in Milan as Real Madrid yet again beat their city rivals for an elusive 11th Champions League title in what was a nerve-racking final at the iconic San Siro.

Sergio Ramos, the hero in Lisbon 2 years ago, was again on target as the Blancos skipper opened the scoring within the first quarter of the game, tapping home a free-kick from Toni Kroos right under Jan Oblak. With only 11 more minutes of normal time left, Yannick Carrasco restored parity with an emphatic finish to a sumptuous Juanfran cross.

The game went into extra-time after 1-1 in normal time, but the scoreline remained the same, leaving the prospect of a penalty-shootout decider. With Real Madrid scoring the first 4 penalties, Juanfran fluffed his lines, allowing no one but Cristiano Ronaldo to strike the decisive kick.

It was joy again for Real, and heart-break, for Atleti, as the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League culminated in a truly emphatic fashion. Here are the major talking points from the Lombardy capital.

#1 All’s well that ends well

Up until the middle of March, Real Madrid were heading towards yet another trophyless season, only for fortunes to turn for the better thereafter.

The pandemonium under Rafael Benitez, the ignominy of Copa Del Rey suspension and the raft of injuries to the players, Los Blancos were embroiled in utter turmoil. However, everything changed once Zinedine Zidane took over.

Not only did the Whites find their rhythm, but also pushed eternal-rivals Barcelona all the way till the final matchday in La Liga, but more importantly, capped off their tumultuous season with the biggest prize of them all.

As the old cliche goes, ‘all’s well that ends well’.

#2 Atletico, take a bow!

Diego Simeone waves to the fans as his side were robbed of European glory again

Another Champions League final, another disappointment, but Atletico Madrid take home all the plaudits here. Despite entering the fray as underdogs yet again, Los Rojiblancos threw everything at their crosstown rivals, and only missed out on the trophy by a reverse of fortune.

Having gone a goal down early on and missed a penalty just after the break, Atletico fought back valiantly in the second half, forcing Real to drop deep. After watching the latter miss 2 good chances at the other end, Los Indios punished them with a goal of their own, forcing yet another extra 30 minutes of play.

After ousting the heavyweights such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich en route to the final, Atletico were dreaming again, only for them to be dashed by their more illustrious neighbors.

Nonetheless, Atletico Madrid deserve a doff of the hat, at the very least.

#3 Zidane repays Perez’s faith

What amazing first 5 months it has been for manager Zidane.

The desperate appointment of Zinedine Zidane following the axing of the much-maligned Rafael Benitez back in January caught several pundits on a hop, but fast forward the calendar by 5 months, and the Frenchman stands as a Champions League winner.

Despite having no prior coaching experience, Zidane successfully steadied the sinking ship at Madrid and eventually guided them to their 11th European crown. The signs were there for all to see when Real Madrid won their last 12 league games on the trot, a run that included victories over Barcelona, Sevilla, Villareal and Valencia and carried that form here in Milan.

With arch-rivals Barcelona running away with the domestic double, the heat was really on Real Madrid, and Zidane ensured they can formulate a fitting reply.

Florentino Perez had entrusted the former Real stalwart with the monumental task of saving their season, and without a doubt, he delivered.

#4 Sergio Ramos – A man of big occasions

Sergio Ramos comes back to haunt Atletico Madrid

Real Madrid skipper Sergio Ramos was once again a catalyst to his side’s victory as the Spaniard proved he’s a man for the big occasions like these.

In Lisbon 2 year ago, Ramos struck the header deep in the added time that helped Real Madrid take the 2014 final to extra-time and eventually triumph 4-1. His goal spurred Los Blancos on as they ripped Atletico to shreds in extra time. Now in Milan, the captain scored the opener this time to become the first ever defender to score in 2 Champions League finals. He also stood and converted a penalty in the shootout.

With Benzema and Ronaldo struggling to impose themselves in the game, the captain stepped up. Yet again.

#5 Atleti’s attack goes missing

Fernando Torres looked off-coloured.

For all the hoopla surrounding the strike partnership of Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann, Atleti’s attack turned out a damp squib. Neither of the two were truly able to conjure real chances, whereas the latter even missed a penalty that ultimately proved costly.

Los Colchoneros spent most of the first half in their own half, and in the second one where they appeared slightly more threatening, the threat was actually stemming through the likes of Juanfran, Felipe Luis and Carrasco on the wings.

The introduction of Carrasco injected some life back into Atleti’s attack, but still not enough to win it.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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