Sunday, May 25, 2014

Joy and Heartbreak in Madrid (well Lisbon actually)

Last night's Champions League final ended with all of the twists and turns that make soccer such an exciting spectacle and have us all looking forward to this summer's World Cup.  The world's most prestigious club competition came down to a contest between two cross-town rivals, Athletico Madrid and Real Madrid.  Real was gunning for its record 10th European crown while Athletico was looking to stop their hated rivals and cap an extraordinary season that saw them beat both Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Spanish League for the first time in 18 years.  Ahtletico seemed destined for glory as they held on to a 1-0 lead deep into stoppage time, but then Sergio Ramos rose to head home a corner kick and equal the score.  This sent the teams into a 30 minute overtime when the exhausted underdogs couldn't hold off the powerful Real side and gave up 3 goals.  The 4-1 scoreline is the most misleading result ever as Athletico were mere seconds away from victory.

Ramos breaks Athletico's hearts at the death.
The game highlighted some key figures in the summers world cup.  Athletico's opener was scored by Uruguayan defender Diego Godin.  Ramos plays for Spain and Real's other goal scorers Marcelo (Brazil) and Christiano Ronaldo (Portugal) are both playing in the world cup.  Of the scorers, only Gareth Bale of Wales won't be playing because his country failed to qualify for this summers event.

You may be wondering if there is any connection between Champions League success and national success in the World Cup. Spain certainly hopes so, but recent history doesn't look good for the defending champions.  In 2010, Inter Milan won the Champions League, but Italy (who were the defending World Cup champs at the time, just like Spain is now) crashed out in the first round.  In 2006, Barcelona won the Champions League, but Spain lost in the round of 16 to the eventual champion France.  2002 was the last time Real Madrid had won the Champions League before yesterday, but that year Spain were eliminated by host South Korea in a match that was decided by penalty kicks.

This years Real Madrid squad has many key Spaniards, but is lead by Ronaldo of Portugal and also boasts Portugals best defender (Pepe), Croatia's best player (Luca Modric) and important players from Germany (Sami Khedira), France (Karim Benzema) and Argentina (Angel Di Maria).  All of these players and many more are on national squads that could lift the World Cup and make them winners of the two most prestigious soccer competitions on the planet this year.



  1. Great summary of this heart-stopping, heart breaking game. Thanks for reminding us of the nationality of the key players. I knew some of them, but not all. I really wanted Atletico to win, but my hopes were waning long before that first goal of the RM, because after the first half, Atl. seemed to settle for that one goal, and RM kept pushing and pushing, and missing and missing, and it was almost inevitable that eventually they would get one in. I just kept hoping against hope that that wouldn't happen before the time was up. (Trying to remember if that goal came during the 5 minutes added on.) Oh well, enough of "if only, if only."

  2. I wish I had been able to see the match. I watch the highlights this morning and read about it before doing the write up. I wanted Athletico to win too, so I guess I was saved the agony by not watching it live. Remember that you can change your team selection order anytime before the 30th if you want to.