Why does Real Madrid continue to create magic in the Champions League?

“It’s something inexplicable,” Carlo Ancelotti said more than once on an evening when he could have talked about all kinds of elements. The Real Madrid manager was of course talking about his team’s amazing ability to win in this competition.

On the other hand, watching such ruthless winners, Harry Kane struggled to come to terms with another high-profile defeat. And that was the thing: he looked really defeated. It was impossible not to feel sorry for Kane, especially considering the scenario where he left with what Thomas Tuchel believed was a back injury. That was the 85th minute and Bayern Munich had one foot in the final. They were 1-0 up and Real Madrid seemed unable to find a way through Manuel Neuer. He had been brilliant, which made it more inexplicable that he spilled the ball at Joselu’s feet at the crucial moment.

What must the goalscorer have been thinking? Just two years ago, the former Stoke City striker – as he must now be described – was in Paris as a fan to watch Real Madrid win the Champions League final. He has now sent them back to that stage, having scored another goal that came so quickly that no one had time to understand it all.

“It happened again,” Ancelotti smiled, “which has happened so many times before.”

Thomas Tuchel was furious with a late decision (Getty Images)

Thomas Tuchel was furious with a late decision (Getty Images)

And yet there was something more. There was still the most inexplicable moment of the evening, which contained so many elements that it is difficult to understand. Tuchel’s emotion was clear. He was furious. Mattijs de Ligt had the ball in the net for what looked like a dramatic equalizer in stoppage time, but the pace of play had already indicated that this was not the case. The assistant had flagged, the referee had blown his whistle and Real Madrid had stopped playing. Andriy Lunin barely made a save attempt.

Tuchel didn’t even try to hide his anger. He just started a tirade, which escalated with every question about the decision. De Ligt himself had already claimed that the assistant told him he had “made a mistake” before the defender himself called it “a big, big mistake”. Tuchel continued.

“It’s a huge, huge call, and it’s the wrong decision.”

“I don’t know if in 50 years we’ll know why this happened.”

“It’s quite clear… what happened there is against all the rules of modern football.”

Tuchel is right about the process there, especially considering the protocol of the modern game where the assistant had to wait before raising his flag. There was something else that was inexplicable.

Tuchel then came out with a more charged comment.

“On the other hand, that wouldn’t have happened.”

However, De Ligt himself had already elaborated on this further.

“I don’t want to say that Real Madrid always has the referees with them, but that made the difference today.”

However, there was a more magnanimous comment from the defender.

“Really, if you think they’re dead, take one last breath… that’s why they have fourteen Champions Leagues.”

Joselu celebrates scoring Real Madrid's late winner (AP)Joselu celebrates scoring Real Madrid's late winner (AP)

Joselu celebrates scoring Real Madrid’s late winner (AP)

That is true, and that is another element that is difficult to explain – although perhaps not impossible. There is clearly a self-perpetuating force in it, as we saw when Manchester United scored late goals under Sir Alex Ferguson. Knowing they can do this strengthens a side throughout the match and then goes to another level in the most important moments, which in turn creates doubt among the opposition. These little things can grow into something big at the end of such games, as we have seen repeatedly.

It’s like that line of Catch me if you can multiplied several times. Why do the Yankees always win? “Because the other teams can’t stop staring at those damn pinstripes.”

The white of Real Madrid can be blinding for several reasons. Ancelotti, meanwhile, spoke about the ‘weight’ of that shirt as he elaborated on why this continues to happen.

“Real Madrid is a family, which is very well led by the president. It is a football club with history, tradition and weight, and those who wear this shirt, it is very important to them.”

The mention of the president was all the more striking because Ancelotti brought him up a few times, to a degree that was uncomfortably obsequious for a manager normally so praised for his cool aloofness.

“There’s a captain here named Florentino Perez, and the rest of us are sailors. The captain is Florentino, a fantastic president, who is able to create a generation of footballers who have achieved a lot and can now reach a Champions League.”

If so – and given all this it’s hard to expect much from Borussia Dortmund – it would be Perez’s personal seventh and the club’s 15th European title. That would be more than double the next club, Milan, who have seven, making the record almost a joke.

Carlo Ancelotti greeted Madrid president Florentino Perez (Reuters)Carlo Ancelotti greeted Madrid president Florentino Perez (Reuters)

Carlo Ancelotti greeted Madrid president Florentino Perez (Reuters)

And yet there is a lot of explanation for this. Although Madrid have always been one of the most powerful and richest clubs in Europe, Perez is utterly obsessed with keeping them at the top. That goes beyond the clever squad building that is now far superior to both Galactico eras. In response to the threat from state-linked clubs such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, Perez realized that his club was no longer the great white shark of the food chain and gave Brazilian head of recruitment Juni Calafat the power to turn things around to deal with. way. That has created this vibrant young team.

But there was more to it than that. At every UEFA or major club meeting, Perez has refused to accept anything that does not benefit Real Madrid. They have guided virtually every major decision, resulting in more and more prize money for the biggest clubs. The most influential of these came in 2016, and a moment when they joined rather than opposed Bayern Munich. With Michel Platini stepping down as UEFA president, the two clubs used the vacuum to ensure that 30 percent of all Champions League prize money went to clubs based on historical performance over a ten-year period. They were essentially “royalties.”

In practical terms, this meant that Newcastle United were only guaranteed £1-3 million from that source this season, while Manchester City were guaranteed £30 million. Over the course of a few years, and in combination with other measures, this continues to widen, creating insurmountable gaps. It has directly led to this situation where it is usually the same clubs in the latter stages of the Champions League, and where Borussia Dortmund – the twelfth richest club in the world, one of the fifteen invited clubs in the Super League – can rightly be seen as underdogs are considered. This is in large part how Madrid may be on the brink of a fifteenth victory.

It was that Super League threat that was most explicitly used to secure those reforms in 2016, with Bayern’s Karl Heinz Rummenigge even admitting as much. The mirror a few years later.

Florentino Perez has attempted to form a new Super League (AP).Florentino Perez has attempted to form a new Super League (AP).

Florentino Perez has attempted to form a new Super League (AP).

It perhaps leads to another unexplained element.

“It’s special for us, this match,” Ancelotti said. If so, why is the president he almost fell over himself still trying to destroy him through the Super League? It’s all the more remarkable because Perez has largely created the world he wants. Madrid now sits in a spectacular modern, NFL-style stadium, which is home to one of the most vibrant young sides in the world, and they regularly win the biggest trophies.

They are now on the cusp of another one. It’s not that difficult to explain.

Leave a Comment