Incredible turnaround brings Real to Champions League final against Liverpool


Relief at Karim Benzema after the whistle: Real Madrid are in the final of the Champions League on May 28.Image REUTERS

unbelievable. He almost looked desperate, Josep Guardiola, the losing coach. How could this be? Something went wrong again. What then? So it was 1-0 to Manchester City, in Spain, after the win at home (4-3), and substitute Grealish saw a bet removed from the line. The matter was settled. However? Real looked tired after celebrating the league title last weekend. Trainer Ancelotti seemed to resign, although that may also be an appearance, because he is always calm. And then, yes then, with all those invaders, everything turned around. It was a pandemonium.

Ancelotti’s team is not a team that normally looks for an attack without brakes. Real is just Real, royal as the name says, the initiative comes from the throne, so to speak, by decree, leaning on experience and quality. Only: there was no goal, it took a long time. Real was forced to take every risk, with other names, and struck mercilessly. Ancelotti was so king of the bills, not Guardiola.

All those seniors from the midfield had been replaced: Kroos, Modric and Casemiro. Youth was brought. Lust to attack and risk. The reward was the final in Paris, on May 28 against Liverpool. Goals from Rodrygo, great work in midfield by 19-year-old Frenchman Camavinga. A decisive penalty in extra time from who else but Karim Benzema, favorite for the Golden Ball, with his 15th goal in the Champions League. madness. Ovation. Tears. 6-5 over two matches, for Real.

Anyway: actually it was over for Real. Until Rodrygo scored from nowhere, on a pass from Benzema, in the 90th minute, by tapping the ball into the near post. Nothing wrong with City yet, but yes, after two six minutes of extra time, the 2-1 fell, again from Rodrygo, with a header now, after a cross from Carvajal and a header from Asensio. So extension.

Real had the advantage now, especially mentally. Sure enough, Ruben Dias fouled Benzema, who converted the penalty. Real – Liverpool in other words, a repeat of the 2018 final, when goalkeeper Karius played such an unfortunate role and Ramos knocked Salah out of the game with a hip swing. The men of Real are the kings of this Champions League anyway. Paris SG defeated, after a hopeless deficit. Chelsea beaten, when a brilliant lead was still in danger of being lost. City, after trailing 5-3 over two games until the 90th minute of the second game.

City struck for what appeared to be the decision in the 72nd minute, shortly after Walker and De Bruyne were substituted by Guardiola for Zinchenko and Gundogan. Both newbies had their share in the goal, with the decisive pass coming from Bernardo Silva and finishing by Riyad Mahrez, with a resolute shot into the short corner from the right wing.

So the excitement was in the final phase. As exciting and eye-catching as City – Real football was last week for 90 minutes (4-3), Real – City developed in a syrupy way. It was a weak reflection of last week’s game in terms of viewing, when players allowed each other to play football and colored the game with beautiful hues. The match in Bernabeu was especially exciting because of the incredible closing stage. Yes, some spectators had already gone home. And then you can’t go in anymore. They will have done their best. Really, never do it, leave a match before the end.

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