So when the curtains fell on the Champions League final on Saturday, a sea of white was all that could be seen at the San Siro as Real Madrid supporters pranced around and sang with all their heart, savouring their team’s unprecedented 11th European triumph.While Real wrote another glorious chapter in their remarkable European tale, the fact that they did so while thwarting their city rivals Atletico Madrid again — twice in three years — made it all the more satisfying for the millions of Madridistas around the world.Whatever motivation the painful memories of the 2014 Champions League final in Lisbon, when Atletico lost 4-1 to Real, had given the mattress makers ahead of the match clearly did not work as, when faced with the task of overcoming Los Blancos, Diego Simeone’s men fell short once again.
They certainly showed heart and courage to dictate play in the second-half and even found the equaliser through Yannick Ferreira Carrasco in the 79th minute after Sergio Ramos had given Real a first-half lead. But as Cristiano Ronaldo, the scorer of the penalty which decided the match, said after the game, it was an ‘experience’ that decided the final in Milan.And experience was always the only thing that could have ever separated the two sides because, in terms of skill and ability, both sides were evenly-matched.
This statement certainly might raise some eyebrows as Real boast a plethora of Galacticos — even their manager was a Galactico. But while Atletico players might not have the same appeal which normally catches Real Madrid President Florentino Perez’s eye, they are in no way inferior to their Madrid counterparts. In fact, some might even be better.For 120 minutes Simeone’s men toiled hard. For 120 minutes they took the game to Real, testing their defence, looking for the gap which would give them the advantage over their opponents.
The only move that Atletico managed to string together perfectly was the one where they found the net as, apart from that, they were left to test Keylor Navas from outside the penalty area as Real became as compact as physics could have allowed them. Simply put, they pulled an Atletico over Atletico Madrid.Simeone’s men, who had frustrated opponents, including the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, with their Spartan-like defence en route to the Champions League final, were given a taste of their own medicine as Atletico, who are used to stifling out their opponents while letting them dictate play, suddenly found the tables to have turned in Milan.