The UEFA Champions League Final: From the Eyes of a Real Madrid Fan

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CAMPEONS!: Real Madrid teammates pose with the UEFA Champions League trophy. Photo credits: @GarethBale11

The REAL Madrid

On a night when naivety, end to end action and tears was a common recurrence, the sight of Sergio Ramos lifting his second Champions League trophy in two years was a joy to behold.

The calls of offside for Sergio Ramos’ goal in the 15th minute seemed uncalled for. It was a tough decision, one that birthed debate in every pub and bar due to the technicality and nature of the finish.

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First blood drawn!: Sergio Ramos celebrates goal in the UCL final. Photo credits: http://facebook.com/realmadrid

Il Generale became the first defender to score in two Champions League finals, a record no one else have. A record thoroughly deserved. 

The performance of the team epitomized he himself; often reckless, passionate and akin to a warrior. Perfect examples were the last ditch tackles from himself and Danilo while Gareth Bale’s wastefulness thankfully didn’t match up to Antoinne Griezmann’s (the man who missed boat loads of opportunities including a penalty).

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European Champions. Photo Credits: Instagram.com/realmadrid

REAL Madrid rode their luck, a factor which many have said aided them to the title. But it should be noted that luck itself is the most important variant a champion needs, no matter how great the team is.

Just ask Pep Guardiola’s Bayern, who have taken football to another level but were deprived of Europe’s big crown or Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool who could have being 4-nil up at half time in the Europa League final but had three calls go against them before crumbling like a pack of cards.

Or better still, how lucky could Man United get than their FA Cup success against Crystal Palace?

Attributing the win to luck would be undermining the fantastic job of Zinedine Zidane, who has transformed a team in shambles to Champions League winners.

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Champion: Zidane posed with the Champions League trophy

The Frenchman was seen as a gamble by most but not by Florentino Perez, who saw him as their own version of Pep Guardiola… epitomizing all that the club means.

It was evident in the penalty shootout as the players tucked everyone away Zizou-style: calm, cool and in a classy way. It was a reflection of his persona, the proof that he had helped them all develop as a group.

The decision to award a penalty against Kepler Lima Pepe, a player who had put in a flawless performance (and some acting too) seemed totally wrong. Not because of the challenge, but because he had done everything so right, you could hardly find him wrong.

This was a reflection of Madrid’s defensive performance. They did everything so right with Marcelo patrolling the left flank like it was his property… practically making the team not feel the lack of fitness by the insured thigh of Cristiano Ronaldo.

The build up to the game was littered with news of CR7’s thigh injury sustained on Tuesday in a collision with Kiko Casilla, He silenced all of them with that winning spot kick at a time when some could have crumbled; a situation he had found himself in before… and failed.

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One. Two. Three: Cristiano Ronaldo and son pose with UCL trophy. Photo credits: http://twitter.com/rmadridgirl

The talk of him rising to the occasion and deciding a final was quashed with critics pointing out that he was missing for long periods in the game. However, you can only ask yourself what you mean when Cristiano put in a selfless performance.

His absence in attack was compensated with his occupation of defensive spaces. Besides, his presence alone was enough to unsettle the defence. Many would forget he played a part in the two chances his team had against the run of play, passing the ball when the Old Cristiano would have gone for goal.

It was the night on which the REAL Madrid stood up and showed their class. It was perhaps only befitting that Real’s only victory this season against their rivals would come on the biggest stage.

A trend that begun in 2014 is continuing and it can only signal that even though Zinedine Zidane is still a young manager, he has the markings of a great one.

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Celebration time!: Real Madrid players toss Zidane in the air. Photo credits: http://www.twitter.com/rmadridgirl

P.S: It would be inappropriate to not mention the metitorious services rendered by Toni Kross and Luka Modric. They were TOO MUCH for A. Madrid to handle. Luka was so fluid, he rarely misplaced his pass while Toni Kross and Casemiro kept the balance.

Luckily, the trophy is now in it’s rightful place: the REAL trophy room in Madrid (not the other one). Looking back, I’m thankful Karim Benzema’s terrible display did not overshadow Gareth Bale’s amazing work ethic and, more importantly, DID NOT cost us our #UnLaDecima.

Hala Madrid!

Follow Tosin on twitter @teetunez

The UEFA Champions League Final: From the Eyes Of An Atletico Madrid Fan

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Diego Simeone arriving at the San Siro for the UEFA Champions League final. Photo credits @championsleague

The REAL team won by a hair strand!

If there was anything Atletico could have done, should have done Saturday night, it was to be real. To be as real as possible. Despite bossing the middle after going a goal down, getting a penalty (and wasting it) and beig worthy opponents the whole time, they just weren’t real enough.

History doesn’t talk about second bests especially in the Champions League. Only the winners get the trophy. This means all the hard work of Diego Simeones’ men will now be forgotten.

After beating Barcelona and Bayern Munich over two legs to get to the final, fans would have expected they’d be able to finish the job against a team that put them to sword 2 years ago. One would have expected that they revenge and win this time!

The game began at a frantic pace! In the 6th minute the game had the referee sweating like he was one of the players. The characteristics of a final!

Atletico were undeniably jittery in the opening stages with Oblak being forced into a huge save in the 5th minute. Diego Simeone’s men came to play their normal game: being feisty and holding no prisoners in the tackles.

They made a couple of mistakes and allowed players like Modric and Casemiro to enjoy plenty of freedom in the middle of the park while they held on “too tightly” to Ronaldo and Benzema.

Madrid, on the other hand, were slowly trying to get quicker off the mark with Bale and Toni Kroos causing all kinds of problems with their pace and skill.

Then Madrid scored and the psyche of the Atleti boys had to be tested. And they responded well… well enough to boss the other team from Madrid.

Half time was spent thinking about how Real Madrid could turn their possession into goals, who and what will help dominate the most important statistic in football. El Cholo must have been thinking too, the attack needed additional bite.

Carrasco came on and immediately made his presence felt with some slick moves. Torres was felled in the box by Pepe during a slick turn and Griezmann who has been brilliant thus far was just unlucky to hit the cross bar.

Still Atletico dug in and Carrasco provided a good finish after a one-time low cross from Juafran. The game ended in a draw. Atletico couldn’t be separated from Real despite dominating. And you know the rest of the story. One thing led to another thing and there was a heartbreak.

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Real Champs?: Real Madrid pose with the UEFA Champions League trophy. Photo credits @GarethBale11

In terms of decision the referee did well, especially foiling Real’s acting tendencies. It wasn’t a good night for star actor Pepe as the referee refused to buy his movie tickets on the night. He should have seen red for acting though.

From my Atletico perspective, one can’t help but wonder: what if that Griezmann penalty had gone in? What if?

You can follow Kolawole on twitter @kopainzy

Papi’s Tips: ALL TEAMS TO SCORE LAST GOAL!! (Sounds Crazy? I Know!)

Hello. Yeah I know it’s been a while. I had to take break to review why I had been making so many wrong predictions.

But I’m back (I think?). So let’s review the available games.

Most of the teams selected are chosen because of one factor: They score a lot of goals with some teams scoring as much as 2 goals per game.

So I thought, instead of picking First To Score, why not try To Score Last Goal? So all the tips I’ll be dropping today are based on this.

Here you go!

– Toulouse To Score Last Goal

– B. Dortmund To Score Last Goal

– Hoffenheim To Score Last Goal

– Krasnodar To Score Last Goal

– San Lorenzo To Score Last Goal

– Guangzhou Evergrande To Score Last Goal

– Aatvidaberg To Score Last Goal

– Sirius To Score Last Goal

– Basel To Score Last Goal

– West Ham To Score Last Goal

– Leicester To Score Last Goal

– Chelsea To Score Last Goal

If you’re feeling a lil bit scared, you can choose the Over 0.5 Goals in 2nd Half option for all the teams above.

That is there’ll be at least one goal scored in the second half of all the games that these teams will be playing.

This is not to be confused with Team X Score over 0.5 Goals in 2nd Half.

As always, be sure to make your own findings before making use of all these tips.

Have fun and have a great weekend too!
Papi.

You can follow me on twitter @rotdav

Four REALLY GOOD Reasons Why Pep Guardiola Is NOT A Failure

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After losing the first leg of his UEFA Champions League semi final tie with Atletico Madrid, the stakes were raised even higher for Pep Guardiola.

He was now tasked with the responsibililty of finding a way past a superb defense mechanism and also qualifying for the finals.

Maybe it was all the pressure that cause him to say, “If I don’t win, you can kill me.” The pressure must have gotten to the philosopher.

On Tuesday, he completed only one of those tasks. He unlocked the Atletico defense,  went on to win the game but failed to qualify for the final thanks to the highly dreaded “Away Goal” rule.

His team got knocked out and different statistics started showing up of how he had failed to make it past the semi finals for three consecutive seasons and so on and so forth.

The social media stratosphere pounced on the trend and called the Philosopher a failure. Because he failed on the big stage, Pep has been called out and labelled a failure by most.

But is Guardiola, after crashing out for a third consecutive time, a failure?

I don’t think so and here’s four reasons to prove my point:

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– But Luis Enrique and His MSN Gang Lost To This Same Set of Iron Men Too…
… and were not labelled failures. The media did not throw stones at them. Why is Pep now being branded a failure? One of the most dreaded trio in football history gave their all (plus all the referee favours) and still lost to this awesone set up of a team. It just did not work for them. They, in the end, weren’t regarded as failures. For this same reason, Guardiola is NOT A FAILURE. He played against a compact, very disciplined team whose defense system alone aroused fear in other teams. He played against a side better than his. And Pep knows what it feels like to be the coach of the better side. He has seen coaches quiver with trembling hands (cue Sir Alex Ferguson in that Champions League final) at the sight of a team FAR BETTER than theirs. His team. He knows what it feels like to be in TOTAL CONTROL. Now, the roles have been switched. His team, against Atletico Madrid, was second best (although the scoreline may be deceiving). And the Philosopher must definitely understand this better than anyone. Only one team can win. Losing to a better team just sends you back to the drawing boards and scheming sheets  and blueprints. It doesn’t make you a failure.

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– Destiny Is TOO Powerful…
… and by destiny, it was just Diego Simeone’s time! Of course I’m not a seer or a fortune-teller but this one was completely out of Pep’s hands. You may not agree with me on the validity of this point and that’s okay. But you’ll agree that football requires plenty of luck. The kind of luck Ramos needed to be in the right place at the right time for that header in that Champions League final against Atletico Madrid. The kind of luck Shevchenko did NOT HAVE that cost him that penalty against Liverpool and ultimately the trophy. The Terry slip against Man. Utd? It’s an endless list and Pep just signed on to this list; The Luckless Ones. But luck equals opportunity plus preparation you may say. History tells me Guardiola was prepared for this opportunity to qualify for the Champions League final. How? He always finds a way to produce a master-piece after losing the first legs of encounters like this. Games against Porto and Barcelona come to mind. So what happened? He was simply unlucky. Or, to put it better, he has just been unlucky with Bayern. It’s obvious that no matter what he tried at Munich, the Champions League trophy would have eluded him still. Why? Because HE HAD TRIED ALL THAT A COACH SHOULD! All that a coach could. He shuffled formations and even benched Muller. If you were the Philosopher, what else could you have done to qualify? I thought as much. It just wasn’t part of destiny to win the Champions League with the Bavariansimage

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– Carlo Ancelotti’s Announcement Caused Pep To Falter in Europe
Although he (Pep) may not admit it, this affected him in a number of ways. It couldn’t have affected his Bundesliga dominance because Bayern owns German football. So the effect showed up in his European campaign. Allow me to propose a theory to prove my point. The past two seasons before this current one, Guardiola had failed in Europe. Although Bayern dominated the Bundesliga, it was too easy there. And the Bayern executives were bored. There was a sharp hunger amongst the executives to win another Champions League trophy. At least that’s why they employed the Philosopher… to win the ultimate prize again so that they could show off to clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona as fellow European power houses. And for two years, they were patient with Guardiola. But Pep failed to accomplish what he was signed for. And at a big club like Bayern, two years is a long time. So they set out to look for a household name in Europe; a name synonymous with winning the Champions League. They found Ancelotti and made the “mistake” of announcing the Italian. Pep must have felt bad. He must have seen the appointment as a “thank you for coming, you’ve tried but failed” note. And like Pellegrini, no matter how much Guardiola tried, Bayern’s “Carlo move” was always going to hunt the Spaniard. And hunt it did.

– What If He Didn’t Win Anything At All?
Of course this is a completely unreasonable point to make given that Pep was a coach at a club as good as Bayern Munich. But what if? What if, in his three years in Munich, he constantly got beaten to the league title by Dortmund and Leverkusen and co.? There’s a reason why I added this point to my article. Furthermore, there’s a  reason why I made it the last point of the article. Here’s why. According to the book, Influence, The Psychology of Persuasion: “There is a principle in human perception, the contrast principle, that affects the way we see the difference between two things that are presented one after another.” The book goes on to explain how much difference it makes which point is made first or which fact is presented last. In this case, to buttress my point, I’ll like to present Guardiola’s three Bundseliga titles as the final exhibit in my defense of the Philosopher. My Lords (dear readers), what if he didn’t win those titles? It would have been a disaster right? But he did. The only trophy that eluded him was the Champions League and the Super Cup and maybe the Club World Cup. When compared, Guardiola won some and lost some. Now that doesn’t make him a failure does it? I rest my case.

It’d be great to hear from you. What do you think? Kindly share with me in the comments section below.

About Author:
Rotimi Daramola is a full time footballing polygamist that loves watching football and is in love with writing about the beautiful game. You can keep up with all of his writing and engage him on Twitter @rotdav and on LinkedIn