Real Madrid were crowned European champions for the 11th time after a dramatic penalty shootout win over Atletico Madrid in Milano on Saturday night.
Sergio Ramos scored in the first half from a questionable position to earn Real Madrid a lead before Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann missed a penalty after the break. However, substitute Yannick Carrasco sent the Champions League final into extra-time with a close-range finish in the closing stages of the match.
Both teams were pretty secure from the white spot and it wasn’t before Juanfran’s shot met the post that Cristiano Ronaldo struck the winning goal to win the coveted trophy.
Here are the five things we learned from the final in Milano:
Better team won
Real Madrid controlled most of the proceedings and Zinedine Zidane should be applauded for his selection for tonight’s match.
Casemiro in the midfield gave Los Blancos much needed stability and allowed Luka Modric to express his creativity to the maximum as Croatia playmaker played one of his finest matches for Real Madrid so far.
Zidane’s surprise with his substitution choices however as he chose to replace two of his key performers. Danilo was a forced sub for injured Casemiro but seeing that Kroos and Benzema were taken off was considered a surprise move from the French manager, who still got his way in the end winning the Champions League both as a player and manager.
Real Madrid pressed high and played Atletico’s game through most of the match and it is fair to say that the fact they outran their opponents solved the match in early stages.
Dismantled Atletico not their usual selves
Los Rojiblancos endured a frustrating night as their performance tonight lacked passion, aggressive approach and some might say desire as well.
Atletico Madrid’s lines were separated from each other with midfield completely cut off from defence, while Torres and Griezmann also had plenty of problems getting in goal chances without proper support from behind.
Atletico’s strength at set pieces was expected to be crucial aspect to their game plan in Milano, but it ended up being their downfall. Diego Simeone’s men were allowing too many set-pieces opportunities while they also defended them poorly.
Ultimately, set pieces cost them the game with Antoine Griezmann’s penalty during the game hitting the bar and Juanfran’s meeting the post for a disappointing end to a disappointing campaign.
Zidane needs to be given extended run as Real Madrid boss
Zinedine Zidane has become the first French manager to ever win the Champions League and the coveted title is just a validation of his impressive work with Los Blancos.
Zidne changed the physiognomy of his team ever since taking over from Rafa Benitez. His choices might have not gone according to Florentino Perez’s pleasing at all times, but they have yielded tangible results and Zizou needs to be given a prolonged chance to make a name for himself.
Winning the Champions League is not a guarantee in contemporary football and Roberto Di Matteo knows it quite well, but all the rumours regarding Zidane’s sacking will have to be revisited after tonight’s success.
Zidane managed to restore the positive atmosphere which became the key point in Real Madrid’s return to winning form and his influence has been immense.
Simeone’s double disappointment
Atletico Madrid have met the end to an utterly disappointing season as they have lost the chase at all fronts.
Having been in the frame for La Liga title for most of the campaign, los Rojiblancos failed to deliver when it as needed the most, while their Champions League failure only makes things worse.
It is a double disappointment for the tactical genius such as Diego SImeone, whose choices for tonight’s game have also been met with a couple of raised eyebrows.
Still, one of the biggest surprises – Stefan Savic – turned out to be one of the best performers for Atletico Madrid and one of the brightest sparks in his team.
Diego SImeone will have to wait for a bit longer to feel the European glory as his team failed to make amends for the 2014 Champions League final against the same rivals.
Real write HISTORY!
Champions League is their competition and the 11th European title is the ultimate confirmation.
It has been a hell of a ride for Real Madrid, who went from institutional crisis in December 2015 to a remarkable return to glory.
Cristiano Ronaldo played a historic season in the elite club competition and it was only fitting for the Portuguese star to be the one to solve the game with his penalty.
The incredible haul for the big-eared trophy will be celebrated deep into the night as Real Madrid turn their season on top with the greatest achievements of them all.
REAL MADRID: Navas 6.5 – Carvajal 6.5 (Danilo 6), Ramos 7.5, Pepe 7, Marcelo 7 – Modric 8, Casemiro 7.5, Kroos 6.5 (Isco 6.5) – Bale 7, Benzema 7 (Lucas 6.5), Ronaldo 7
Unused subs: Casilla, Nacho, Jese, Rodriguez
ATLETICO MADRID: Oblak 6.5 – Juanfran 7, Savic 7.5, Godin 7, Filipe Luis 6.5 (Hernandez 6) – Niguez 6.5, Gabi 7, Fernandez 6.5 (Carrasco 7.5), Koke 6.5 (Teye 6.5) – Torres 6.5, Griezmann 7
Unused subs: Tiago, Correa, Gimenez, Moya
REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg
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