History will not tell that Real Madrid had to turn the tables to win their fourteenth European Cup final. The stories will simply say that the whites defeated Liverpool 0-1 with a goal from Vinicius in the decisive match of the Champions League, in whose memories only the white comebacks against PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City will appear.
But Madrid did come back in the final of the Stade de France, because they started losing this duel about a week ago, when the French crack Kylian Mbappé announced that he would renew with PSG, leaving the meringues without the megastar they wanted for their project of the next ten years.
Apparently, Mbappé’s decision would have nothing to do with the duel against Liverpool, but Madrid’s entourage had placed so much hope in signing the Frenchman that his decisive move was a straight shot to the Whites’ chin, especially at the time that arrived
Everyone had to shake off the blow, appeal to the caste, to the historical pride of the most successful club in Europe and go out psyched to look for another comeback against a crude rival, probably the most dynamic and energetic of the teams that played this Champions League.
Liverpool stood imperial in front of Madrid, with the frenetic pace of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson, the nerve of Luis Díaz, the punch of Sadio Mané, the magic of Mo Salah, the driving of Thiago Alcántara, the muscle of Fabinho , the feeling of Henderson and the power of Van Dijk and Konaté, the two defense towers.
It seemed utopian that Real managed to climb that mountain, as they had done before with period comebacks at the Bernabeu against Qatari PSG, the current champions Chelsea and the Sheikhs’ City. But Madrid should not be left for dead when not all the nails in the coffin have been placed, and Liverpool proved it.
Without playing well, besieged by an attack as ruthless as it was ineffective, the Whites turned history upside down for the umpteenth time. The comeback began to be developed by a goalkeeper who, according to a ranking prepared by the British publication FourFourTwo, is not even among the ten best goalkeepers in the world.
Thibaut Courtois, goalkeeper by profession, stopped everything that was thrown at him. He frustrated Mané –helped by the post–, Thiago, Salah, who came with a thirst for revenge and was unable to breach the wall raised by the Belgian goalkeeper, selected in the end as the Most Valuable Player of the match.
His performance gave Madrid air, so much so that Vinicius was able to run at a hundred per hour to finish off a center by Fede Valverde behind Alexander-Arnold’s back. In a precisely woven move at a speed not suitable for the faint of heart, this Brazilian devil sent the ball into the back of the net and sealed the comeback that led to Real Madrid’s fourteenth European Cup.
It was one minute past five in the afternoon in Havana, a city that exploded with a cry of a dry goal that escaped through the windows of the city. The state television and the only legal one in the country was not showing the match for not acquiring the transmission rights, but hundreds of thousands of fans managed to watch the duel in private bars, in houses with clandestine antennas, through online radio signals. foreign or through applications on cell phones.
The Cuban capital roared with Vinicius’s goal, the goal that elevated Karim Benzema, Luka Modric, Marcelo, Dani Carvajal, Gareth Bale, Nacho and Isco as European champions for the fifth time in their careers, something within the reach of very few players . The goal also added shine to coach Carlo Ancelotti’s enormous track record: two Champions Leagues with Madrid, two Champions Leagues with Milan, two Champions Leagues as a player and the domestic title of each of the five major European leagues. Imposing.
Ancelotti is one of the great managers of victory. Last summer he took on a squad with almost no flashy reinforcements, he advanced safely to obtain the League title many days in advance, and now he finished off with an unparalleled Champions League. The Italian knew how to withstand the pressure all year and managed to get his players to reach the final stretch of the campaign at full speed.
After this victory, Madrid maintains a streak of 41 years without losing finals in the European Cup. Precisely, this Friday, May 27, was the 41st anniversary of his last defeat in the competition. That failure was in Paris, it was against Liverpool, and many thought that history would repeat itself in 2022, but no, in the long run the white legend has prevailed.