Real creates history with unlikely redemption,Real creates history with unlikely redemption

first_img SHARE SHARE EMAIL La Undecima Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League REUTERS Published on La Undecima Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates with the trophy after winning the UEFA Champions League REUTERS COMMENT Wins Champions League for therecord 11{+t}{+h} time May 29, 2016center_img Familiarity breeds contempt. Inter-city derbies are testimony to that. And if the encounters go beyond domestic league games, they only get fierier.  The Madrid rivalry, which remained largely one-sided for long, reached the pinnacle of European nights for the second time in three seasons. For Real Madrid, it was a chance to cement their name on the Hall of Fame with ‘La Undecima’, a record 11th Champions League title; for Atletico Madrid, it was a chance to avenge the heartbreak of the 2014 final, in which they had lost to the same opposition.  Although Real Madrid were the dominant side in this competition, Atletico came into the final with a superior head-to-head record over their neighbours since the past few seasons, in all competitions combined. Like 2014, the final in Milan on Saturday went to Extra Time after the teams were locked at one goal apiece after regulation time. But unlike the final in Lisbon, there was no late onslaught from Real and penalties followed. It only seemed scripted by the footballing Gods that the winning penalty was taken by none other than Cristiano Ronaldo.  Zizou’s revivalYet, six months ago, not even the most loyal of Real supporters saw this coming. After a troubled start to the campaign under the then manager Rafa Benitez, which included a 4-0 hammering at home by enemies Barcelona, and subsequent disqualification from the Copa del Rey for fielding an ineligible player, Los Blancos fans sensed yet another disappointing season.  However, the new year brought a new lease of life. Rafa Benitez was shown the door, and replacing him was club legend Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman, who was Assistant Manager when Real Madrid lifted the Champions League in 2014, had a huge task. Barcelona were racing ahead in the La Liga, leaving the Champions League as the only hope for silverware.  And on Saturday, he proved why he was the right man for the job.The La Liga seemed a foregone conclusion, with neither team from Madrid having any realistic chance of catching the Catalans. However, an unlikely collapse from Barcelona saw both Madrid teams catch up with the outfit at Camp Nou, and the La Liga race went till the final day; Real Madrid finished just one point behind Barcelona. Fresh attitudeNot only did Zidane revive the team, he also breathed fresh attitude. The season was marred by poor results, and there was the natural speculation of infighting. With Barcelona’s lethal MSN (Messi-Suarez-Neymar) combine striking terror into oppositions teams, Real’s BBC (Benzema-Bale-Cristiano) were facing a rough patch. Zidane’s first job was to get the team “believing” again, something he did successfully. In the post-match press conference, he mentioned that his “positive attitude” changed the team. Gareth Bale too, praised the manager for instilling confidence into the team.  It was a season full of surprises — the major one being Leicester City’s unthinkable feat — but Real’s redemption from being bruised around Christmas, to capping the season with a record Champions League title has probably left fans everywhere stumped.  The win won’t stop Zidane’s re-building process, and there will be players shown the door as well as fresh faces injected into the line-up. The former Champions League winner with Real Madrid as a player silenced critics who had questioned his ability as a manager worthy enough to lead the side with most European Cups.  Real Madrid are likely to start as favourites for the La Liga next season. Barcelona’s dominance may come to an end with Zizou’s revival of Los Blancos. While fans celebrate this win, and analysts prepare for next season, Florentino Pérez will be smiling in his cabin, having played his trump card by appointing Zidane and having the last laugh amid constant criticism from all quarters about his functioning as Real Madrid president. The Santiago Bernabéu has added ‘La Undecima’ to it’s trophy cabinet.   × SHARE football COMMENTSlast_img

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