Courtois Masterclass & An Impeccable Ancelotti Defensive Job Gives Real Fourteenth Champions League Title In Paris

Courtois Masterclass & An Impeccable Ancelotti Defensive Job Gives Real Fourteenth Champions League Title In Paris

It started off with a considerable delay, as fans entering the stadium late resulted in kickoff being pushed back, and the rather over the top, Superbowl-esque performance from artist Camilla Cabello beamed across television screens all over the world.

At the final whistle, Florentino Perez was seen smiling and shaking hands with his peers; Real Madrid have had arguably their greatest period under his reign as president of the club, but all lobbyists aside, when it came to a responsible pair of hands, nobody in the stadium and on the pitch had safer hands than Real Madrid’s number 1, Thibaut Courtois.

Liverpool threw everything they had at the Real goal, but on this particular night, Courtois wouldn’t be beaten.

It was telling, Liverpool had 23 shots on goal 15 off target and 9 on target, but the score at full time read 1-0 Real Madrid.

The commanding Belgian created history by making 9 saves in a Champions League final, the most made by a goalkeeper in a final in the history of the competition.

The Reds from Merseyside were expected to start the game strong and they did, with their high-intensity pressing and relentless work off the ball, closing space and choking Real high up the pitch.

It started with Sadio Mane’s strike in the first half which Courtois turned on to the post, an exceptional save, and you could tell by his reaction and the save that he was in the mood for delivering a top notch performance.

Speaking after the game, Courtois vindicated the demons of the past, and all his critics and doubters.

The Belgian reiterated about putting ‘respect’ to his name, which he highlighted in his comments.

He said, “I saw a lot of tweets saying I would get humbled. It was the other way round. Today I needed to win a final – for my career, for all the hard work, to put respect on my name because I don’t think I have enough respect, especially in England. I saw a lot of criticism that I was not good enough or whatever.”

“I’m just really happy and proud of the performance of the team, and when I needed to be there I was there for the team.”

And he was, a commanding and assured performance in goal, leading Real from the back, with several key saves, from Mane & Salah and all Liverpool’s attacks and goal threat were thwarted by the towering Belgian.

It was Courtois’ performance that stole the headlines, but it was a thoroughly professional job done by Carlo Ancelotti and his Real Madrid side.

Dani Carvajal, put in a remarkable shift on Real’s right, stopping Luis Diaz and later Diogo Jota and blocking shots by Mane and Diaz while also contributing effectively and efficiently in attack.

Casemiro shielded the Real defence in another hard-working and energetic display in midfield, winning the ball in key moments in middle of the pitch during the match.

Modric and Kroos kept the midfield ticking and picked out passes beating Liverpool’s press between the lines. It was a relentless press, but Kroos and Modric showed their class.

The Real defence of Alaba and Militao stood resolute and assured. While Mendy managed to keep Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold at bay as well.

In attack, Valverde, the marauding workhorse, whose drilled pass led to Vinicius’ goal, showed his industry and work-ethic and justified why Ancelotti prefers to pick him game after game on the right-flank.

Vinicius Jr. capped off his most impressive season for Real after years of showing ‘potential’. It was a tap in, but the way he ghosted in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold and finished, typified the kind of explosive pace and finishing he’s promised for years since Real signed him, finally delivering in their biggest game of the season.

For Karim Benzema, his name will by synonymous with this Real Madrid Champions League run and win, he was unlucky to have his goal ruled out for offside, but the way he has carried this Real team in their run this season remains exemplary and world-class.

For the 34-year-old Frenchman, captaining Real in his home country’s capital, Paris, and cementing his place in Real’s history, was a sweet vindication for the French striker after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.

For Benezema, all that’s left now is to pick up the Ballon d’Or and etch his name in football history as one of the greatest strikers to have graced the game.

Courtois’ stand out saves to deny Mane and Salah, twice, ensured that Real would keep the clean sheet on the night and for Liverpool, for all of Klopp’s comments of his players being ‘mentality monsters’ this was their third final this season where they failed to score.

It’s was perhaps written in the stars for Real to win the Champions League this season. They came back against PSG, they came back against Chelsea, they came back against Man City all when the odds were against them and when they were seemingly dead and buried.

They dragged themselves out of despair to glory and it was perhaps fitting that they won the Champions League this season, in a run that will be remembered by the Madridistas for years to come; the unbridled emotion, the grit, the determination, and the never say die mentality Ancelotti has infused into this Real side has been unmatched.

Has a team won their Champions League games in such dramatic fashion ever in the history of the competition? I think not.

Yes, Liverpool had more pressure and created more openings and attacks, but they were beaten by a proper Italian job orchestrated by Carlo Ancelotti.

Real had three shots on goal, and only one on target.

That was the difference on a glamorous night in Paris, as Los Blancos won their fourteenth Champions League trophy.

While Ancelotti, as he celebrated and raised his hands victoriously to the crowd, served up another reminder as to why he’s one of the greatest managers in football history and the first to win the Champions League four times.

This was another Ancelotti masterclass on the night and throughout the campaign this season. This was the greatest Champions League run in the history of Real Madrid.


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