champions league


In an epic showdown of the invincible instincts of the Spanish Champions, Cristiano Ronaldo and company  lead Real Madrid to victory yet again consolidating themselves as the greatest team in Europe after a thumping 4-1 win over Juventus in the UEFA Champion’s League final.

The Principality Stadium in Cardiff, bore witness to what was yet another night of sheer Madrid dominance. The match saw Los Blancos no more relying on their Galacticos rubric and the team in its entirety demolished the fabled I Bianconeri defence after the likes of Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini and Dani Alves were reduced to mere dummies against the Modric-Casemiro-Kroos midfield magic.

The first goal of the night came after only 20 minutes of the whistle. Cristiano Ronaldo created a glorious chance for himself, in a quick one-two into the box with Carvajal, as he curled the ball past Buffon from just inside the area. The euphoria was only briefly hindered when Mario Mandzukic, the former Atletico man, scored a stunning scissor equaliser in the 27th minute. The goal spree continued as the second half saw detrimental goals coming from the thundering 27-yard from Casemiro and the tap-in from Ronaldo, with Asensio scoring the ultimate goal in the 90th minute.


Ronaldo jubilant after the final whistle.

All in all, Madrid did what Madrid does. They demolished the opposition inspite of the statistics and all the emotional strings attached with the retiring Gigi Buffon.

It is almost boring to see a team win repeatedly, but that is also the hardest thing to do. This is something enabled by the perfect game plan of the super-manager Zinedine Zidane and the perennial record-smashes of Cristiano Ronaldo. Their team has made everything achievable. They enjoy unprecedented success by facing different challenges to nearly any other team but overcoming them nonetheless.

This is the beginning of an era. The way Cristiano passes as selflessly as he scores, the way Casemiro demolishes the defence, the way Modric dances with the ball and the way Isco makes the ball move to his symphony. Madrid seems to have no stopping for some years to come. At the Super Cup this August, Manchester United might end up learning this the hard way.

Image Credits- Real Madrid Facebook Page.

Nikhil Kumar
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Real Madrid finally ended their long wait for a tenth European Cup in the club’s history. The popularly-known, ‘La Decima’ came on the night of 24th May, Saturday at Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, Portugal as Madrid beat their city rivals, Atletico 4-1 in a thrilling final.

It was the second all-Spanish final and the first in the history of the competition to feature two teams from the same city. Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale both started for the Los Blancos while Diego Costa was seen in the starting line-up for Atletico despite suffering an injury from the last week’s match with FC Barcelona. Rafael Varane came in for Pepe and Sami Khedira started for Xabi Alonso, who was suspended after taking a yellow card in the semi-final against Bayern Munich.

The match kicked off with a nervy start for Atletico as Real Madrid looked more comfortable on the ball. However, the hardworking team of Diego Simeone, Atletico’s Manager, started growing into the match as they left no ball uncontested and putting pressure on the Madrid players. The first goal came in the 36th minute for Atletico as Diego Godin headed the ball into the Madrid net from a rebounded corner into an empty net as Iker Casillas was caught in no-man’s land. Diego Godin had also scored in last week’s draw against Barcelona which eventually led the Atletico team to win the Spanish La Liga.

The match continued in the second half with the match being mostly contested in the midfield. The match looked set for a win by the men in red and white but their celebrations were spoilt by the long-serving Madrid man, Sergio Ramos as he headed the ball into the net in the 93rd minute. It was heartbreaking for the Atletico fans as they saw the trophy being stolen from them during the next 30 minutes.

The first period of extra-time saw a majority of the ball with the men in white. But the breakthrough came in the second half of the extra-time period with a clinical run from Angel Di Maria whose shot was saved by Courtois but rebounded in by the world’s most expensive player, Gareth Bale.  This was followed by a goal from Marcelo who ensured that the title was going to the Spanish giants. However, Atletico conceded a penalty in the dying minutes of the match to allow Cristano Ronaldo to score on his homeland. This was followed by a scuffle between Diego Simeone and Rafael Varane which eventually led to Simeone being sent off from the grounds but not for long, as shortly afterwards, the final whistle was blown.

Real Madrid ended their 12 year wait for the coveted title and Angel Di Maria was named the Man of The Match. Take a look at the highlights of the match below!

Image courtesy: tsmplug.com

This week proved to be the start of another disappointing season for English clubs, as two title contenders, Arsenal and Manchester City bid farewell to their hopes of Champions League glory. With Manchester United also down on a 2-0 aggregate to Olympiakos, and Chelsea’s performances looking rather unconvincing, recent debates amongst football pundits have questioned whether or not the EPL ‘deserves’ a fourth Champions League spot. So what seems to have prompted such a hasty proposition? Certainly, it seems the underwhelming performances of the English teams have not gone unnoticed.

Many ardent EPL supporters generally assert the above as false, basing their entire claims on Chelsea winning the Europa League last year, and the Champions League the year before. However, this article refers to English football in general. A period such as from 2005-08 can be seen as one replete with instances of English dominance, the apogee of the EPL era coming in 2008, where 3 out of the 4 Champions League semi-finalists were English. Not only have the English teams not managed to replicate such magnificent grandeur, but the chances of guaranteed quarter-final positions have also started to appear dim nowadays. (All English teams were ousted of the Champions league by the last 16 knock-out ties last year, while this year only Chelsea looks likely to make it to the quarter finals).

Many footballing circles now believe that the English teams are giving way for Spanish and German domination from now on. It is no lie that the English Premier League has gotten a lot more competitive than the years of the ‘Big 4’. However, no matter how competitive the English league gets, a case of German and Spanish giants easily overpowering their English counterparts gives way to a valid and rather valuable argument here. The most recent reflection of this can be seen in the clash between two of the top-dogs in European football, Manchester City and Barcelona, which resulted in a 4-1 aggregate in favour of Barcelona.

Though it is true that Arsenal and Manchester City have both been a part of the ‘Group of Death’ in recent years, and moreover Arsenal have had a streak of bad luck in successive seasons as they have faced Barcelona and Bayern Munich in arguably their strongest years, it still cannot be counted as ‘Bad Luck’ as it eventually boils down to their ability to beat all the sides in the league. Sloppiness on Arsenal’s part got them second on the group table this year, which need not have necessarily resulted in a draw against a top team like Bayern Munich.

An important and usually overlooked aspect of the under-performing English teams is the lack of a winter break in the EPL, which in the German Bundesliga and La Liga are crucial as the rested players are able to maintain top levels of football week-in and week-out. German and Spanish leagues are also relatively less competitive, therefore, the question of struggling to cope up with the variety of competitions hardly occur in these leagues. Apart from that, a lot of contingent factors also add up to the under-par English football. The English teams are internally going through a lot of transition. New managers with new footballing philosophies, under-performing and inconsistent players, injuries to key players etc. also inhibit the clubs from reaching the desired levels of performance.

However, this slump in English football seems to be temporary on the whole. While the same would have probably been said about the teams last year around, the probability of the English clubs to ultimately find their mojo seems to be the more likely scenario. This will probably be a gradual process which may also take some years. A look at the top sides of the EPL highlights how the teams are built and structured for future disbursements rather than immediate dividends. (The examples of Arsenal, Man C and Liverpool should suffice).Thus, this may be the emergence of a new phase of English dominance.The truth however at this point stands against them, and the English teams will have to push hard to show their mettle.

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