Real Madrid confirms its warrior lineage in Champions

“The great virtue of this club, not just this year, is never giving up. Until the end, let’s go Real, that’s the key”, said midfielder Casemiro with total euphoria at the end of the match between Real Madrid and Manchester City in the second leg semifinals of the 2022 Champions League, which ended with an aggregate score of 6-5 in favor of meringues.

The feeling of jubilation spread throughout the white squad after they had two factors against them: the adverse score by 3-4 in the first leg and that until minute 89 they were losing at home by 0-1, which forced them to score two goals to send the series at least to extra time. And they achieved it with a brace from the young Brazilian Rodrygo Goes, accompanied by the mischief and intelligence of Vinícius Júnior and Karim Benzema.

Thanks to this reaction of heroic overtones, Real Madrid returns to a Champions League final after three seasons absent, since its last precedent was the championship against Liverpool in 2018. Destiny and football have decided that the rival is the same in 2022, an unexpected duel for the path that the merengue team had to go through.

“We have had fantastic nights, we have played against three very strong teams accredited to win the Champions League, now we have another one. Much of the merit goes to these players and to a crowd that pushes inside and outside the stadium, the weight of the shirt, the entire history of this club, the pride of being part of this club”, analyzed Carlo Ancelotti, coach of Real Madrid.

And it is that during their way in this Champions League, the meringues, already in the direct elimination phase, have left out three natural candidates for the title: PSG, Chelsea and Manchester City. Each of these stages was carried out with nervousness and a spirit of resurrection, because against PSG they had lost 0-1 in France and also lost by the same score at halftime at the Santiago Bernabéu, until a third of goals from Karim Benzema between the 61st and 78th minutes ensured victory over a constellation made up of Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Already in the quarterfinals, although Madrid won the first leg 3-1 on their visit to London, Chelsea took it upon themselves to make them suffer again in the second leg, as the English went up 3-0 until the minute 75 and they did not show a hole for the meringues to survive. Then, at 80′, a goal by Rodrygo appeared that forced the extension and there again the effectiveness of Benzema at 96′ to settle the series.

The semifinals painted a similar picture. The first leg was won 4-3 by Manchester City in English territory and with a gale of attacks from those led by Pep Guardiola, who recognized their lack of efficiency to go to the Bernabéu with a larger score.

There, Riyad Mahrez put the English ahead in the 73rd minute, forcing the meringues to seek two goals in less than 20 minutes. They held out until the last breath of regular time to make it 1-1, which was insufficient, because the aggregate still favored City 5-4, but in less than 60 seconds a second goal from Rodrygo fell that sent everything into extra time and that’s where it ended. he repeated the formula against PSG and Chelsea: Karim Benzema scored the final penalty goal at 95′.

“This feeling of being so close to achieving it and yet in the last 10 minutes feeling so controlled by the rival is difficult to accept, then they took the penalty and it was all over,” said City manager Pep Guardiola, crestfallen, after suffering his injury. sixth elimination with this club in search of the Champions League title. The occasion in which he came closest was the final lost last year against Chelsea.

On the other hand, everything is happiness for Madrid, which will play its 17th Champions League final (called the European Cup before 1992) and the fifth in the last nine years, a streak that is only surpassed by that old generation of names like Raymond Kopa and Alfredo Di Stéfano who achieved seven finals and five championships between 1956 and 1964.

This will be the third time that Real Madrid and Liverpool meet in the final, which so far has an even balance of one victory for each (in 2018 for the Merengues and in 1981 for the Reds). No other team has more experience in finals than the Whites, as they are followed by Milan and Bayern Munich with 11 each.

For its part, Liverpool will face its tenth final and the third since the mandate of German coach Jurgen Klopp, registering a title and a runner-up. If they win, the English would tie Milan as the second-highest winner in the history of the tournament with seven stars, while if they win, Madrid will extend their supremacy with 14 trophies.

The 2022 Champions League final will be played on May 28 at the Stade de France, located in Saint Denis, which has a capacity for 81,000 spectators and which took over from the Krestovski Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia, which was canceled by FIFA. due to the war situation between that country and Ukraine.

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