Real against the match of the last few times | Soccer | Sports


“Confidence, but not confident,” Marcelo shouted in the kyiv locker room, with the score 0-0. “We are going to suffer,” Zidane said at half-time against Cardiff, then 1-1. Of the five Champions League finals played in the last decade by Real Madrid, in one they lost by the minimum in the second 45 minutes (Lisbon), in another they also won by the minimum (Milan), and the rest (Cardiff, kyiv , Paris) tying. They ended up winning with immense self-confidence (“we know it’s going to come, it’s going to come and we’re going to be there,” said Zidane in the final against Juve, all captured in the Madrid television specials) and also with an enormous capacity for suffering: “We have suffered a lot in some games without the ball, but it is something we know how to do. And the most important thing is that you learn to feel comfortable like this, although it is not easy for players like me, who want the ball: you have to accept that there are times when you don’t have it and what you have to do is defend and exploit the counters or the rival’s mistakes”, Kroos’s words.

In some moments of those finals, and in many other moments of previous rounds in which advancing to the round seemed like a dream (PSG, City on two occasions), what Madrid did best was give up being better at the game to be better at the scoreboard: adapt, suffer, back down with intelligence and, above all, solidarity (“more together, everyone more together, always a partner nearby”, Zidane in Cardiff). That humble and not very proud trait (we are Madrid, we cannot let them dominate us) that clashes so much with the fame of the club and its fans, is a question of ideological principles: in many clubs – for many coaches, rather – the game is an unquestionable principle, a red line: you win and lose with it; In others, mainly in Madrid, that principle is victory: you win, and how is discussed. There is time for spectacle and there is time to know how to recognize the opponent’s damage, collect oneself and regroup, sometimes even in the same match; In 90 or 120 minutes there is time for a beautiful game and a speculative and gray game. What Madrid has done very well all these years, with two coaches who are similar in their own way (flexible), is knowing how to choose when to deploy and when to withdraw. It is a complex team. Being that way with Kroos and Modric in the middle is difficult, but even greater than the greatness they had in these years with the ball, it was giving it up and playing without it, and not raising their voice. You learn to suffer, and the more you know how to suffer, the more you know how to make your opponent suffer.

There is something else, visible particularly in the finals. Respect for the rival. It is impossible to win any other way. If someone in Madrid believes that Borussia Dortmund is inferior to Juve, Liverpool or Atlético, the Champions League is lost. If during the match someone relaxes, settles or becomes distracted because they believe that the match is on track, the final is lost. If at any time it is believed that Madrid’s 14 Champions Leagues give more points than one of Borussia’s, and that with those titles and the experience of winning them there is further progress, the final is lost. If by doing it so many times, in so many finals and semi-finals, in so many quarter-finals, it is believed that it is going to be done again just because, the final is lost. History is repeated by those who manage to forget it for at least 90 minutes, although deep down it helps: it helps to be alert, not relaxed.

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