A Ronaldo Rant, A Free Pass For Simeone And Bale-Backing

Our Spanish Thing enjoyed a mesmeric Champions League final, and has brought you his highlights of the showpiece occasion. Look away, Cristiano...

Last Updated: 26/05/14 at 09:55 Post Comment

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Random lists are a very lazy manner of reflecting on any kind of event, but the Champions League final had more subplots and spin-offs that trying to weave them into a coherent narrative would require a tome that would take a week to plough through.

Instead, here are the highlights of the Champions League fall-out, a match which came so, so close to the worker drones throwing off the shackles of their imperial alien overlords and poking them with sticks.


La Décima
Atlético Madrid won the game in 90 minutes but Real Madrid's admirable ability to never, ever down tools - except in league title races - saw the Décima finally delivered to the Santiago Bernabéu. The fact that the streets of the Spanish capital were still littered with drunken bodies the following morning, it showed just how much the victory meant to the Madridista world.

But rather than the 4-1 win being a moment of unexpected joy and release, the winning of the trophy was a planet-sized millstone lifted from round the necks of the Real Madrid entity. For a club that chooses to define itself by its European Cup history, the barren spell without a win was wholly unacceptable, especially when considering the dominance of Barcelona. Heaven knows what would have happened to the institution's collective psyche if Sergio Ramos had not grabbed that equaliser.

Only time will tell if Real Madrid will heap even more pressure on itself to win the 11th title next season in a competition that history has shown to be hugely tough to retain.


Atlético Madrid
A 5-0 rollicking with a Ronaldo strike two minutes in would have been the preferred choice of defeat for Atlético Madrid supporters in retrospect. The knee-shaking agony of being seconds and some better set-piece marking away from beating Real Madrid in a Champions League final would be more than enough to send the sanest fan potty forever.

But it shouldn't. Instead, intensive group therapy is needed to reset the narrative of the Atlético mind, which can be prone to brooding. It was an incredible achievement to even be in that particular situation, as Real Madrid had been completely blocked from the game through determination and drive. Cups rely on luck, as even José Mourinho admitted, but league titles are where the true Champions are crowned.


Cristiano Ronaldo
The Madrid man's clear self-obsession and vacuous, all-consuming vanity had not really been a problem for this column before. Indeed, the care and attention given to his eyebrows in particular were a source of delight and wonderment. But the whole shirt ripping off after a meaningless goal really showed what an enormous tool Ronaldo is.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with celebrating what was clearly a thrilling moment and being knee deep in the hoopla. But that run to camera and flex was wholly premeditated and quite pathetic. The feeling was that Ronaldo would have gone home quite unfulfilled had he not got his pecs out despite winning the Champions League trophy.

Instead, the message to the Atlético Madrid fans in particular behind the goal was "look at me! I did absolutely bugger all in the game when it mattered. But hey, I have all day to spend in the gym like a big eejit, when you suckers do all that getting up early, standing on buses, going to work tedious nonsense."

It's worth cheering Portugal all the way to the final, just in the hope that the same fate befalls the Real Madrid man. Preferably in a penalty shoot-out. Which he fluffs.

That felt better.


Gareth Bale
On the other hand, it was heart-warming to see the genuine, grinning joy of Gareth Bale who celebrated achieving something useful in the game with what was ultimately the clincher for Real Madrid.

The Welshman had previously had a bit of a nightmare in the match and not the most stellar of opening campaigns due to the lack of pre-season and a whole batch of niggling knocks throughout the year.

Of course, the footballer is handsomely rewarded at Real Madrid in financial terms, so nothing is ever a risk. However, it is encouraging to see a British footballer trying to better himself by daring to dip a toe into the waters outside of the Premier League and discovering they can be pleasantly warm and shark-free.


Diego Simeone
Whatever Raphael Varane did, said, kicked, or inferred towards Diego Simeone, it completely justified a sprint, and boggle-eyed rant towards the Frenchman from the Atlético Madrid coach.

Primarily that's because moments like that are fun to watch but, secondly, because the Argentinean has had to stay controlled and in command of his realm for 10 months and done so to perfection. Being just 140 seconds away from a double of astonishing odds, and having that snatched away must have been a trauma to the psyche and then some. Simeone has earned the right to behave in any way he pleases.


Sergio Ramos
If you had to pick one footballer to play in every position on the pitch, then Sergio Ramos might well be the top choice. The centre-back is hardly a world beater but the Spaniard has the physical acumen and nerves of steel of a World Cup and Champions League winner. All that is lacking is a control of his gob which has a gift for picking up daft yellow cards.


Diego Costa
Although the Atlético Madrid striker only lasted nine minutes in the end, it is easy to understand why Simeone chose to play the injury-hit forward. Atlético hardly have a packed squad but the way the club play reflects that Costa may only have been needed for half an hour, anyway.

The club's usual way of doing its business is grabbing a goal, digging in and hanging on for dear life. It was a plan which oh so nearly worked again, taking advantage of another strength: set-pieces.

Tim Stannard - follow him on Twitter.

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