Real Madrid: From Mere Greatness to Genuine Legend
Real Madrid retained the Champions League, winning it for the third year in succession and the 13th time overall, beating Liverpool 3-1 in a final that will be remembered for the ridiculous and the sublime.
Loris Karius’s calamitous error allowed Karim Benzema to open the scoring, before Sadio Mane equalised only four minutes later.
Gareth Bale produced a moment of genius to put Real back in front, leaping high to send an overhead kick into the Liverpool net that may have been the finest ever finish in a final but his chance of hogging the headlines were ruined by another calamitous error from Karius who let a Bale strike through his hands to make it 3-1 and end Liverpool’s hopes of a sixth European crown.
In years to come, this Real Madrid team will not remember the details of how it moved from mere greatness to genuine legend, of how it etched its name in history alongside the very best club teams soccer has ever produced. They will not matter.
Like the Ajax of Johan Cruyff, the Bayern Munich of Franz Beckenbauer and the Real Madrid of Alfredo di Stefano, this is now a team that has won the European Cup three times in a row. In 2016, it saw off Atletico Madrid on penalties, in 2017, Juventus, in a 4-1 romp; and now, in 2018, a 3-1 win against Liverpool. That is what counts — the victory, the trophy, the glory — for a club that measures its worth in silver and in gold.
They are what will remain: everything else will fade. True, the second of its three goals will be talked about for some time, whenever an argument emerges about the best goal scored in the Champions League final. Gareth Bale’s gravity-defying overhead kick merits a place alongside the volley scored by his manager, Zinedine Zidane, in the 2002 final. It was a goal worthy of a place in history.
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