In less than a mere forty-eight hours, eleven warriors from Madrid will enter a field of battle in the heart of enemy territory to prove their worthiness to make the pilgrimage to Lisbon in May. The armour and uniforms have been meticulously worked over, the ground readied, and the beautifully crafted ball selected. The stage is set for history to be written before our eyes. Real Madrid. Bayern Munich. Ninety minutes – or more.
I had a miracle last year with FC Internazionale Milano in the Camp Nou, but at this time Madrid are out. We will go to Barcelona with all our pride and full of respect, but … it will be very difficult.
– José Mourinho
A scene twelve years in the making: during which time the world witnessed the rise and fall of celebrated European powers – each story more spectacular than the previous. The fabled chronicles beginning to lose their charm on Madridistas all around the globe with each year that expires. The Spanish club has seen many faces come, just as many depart, and some of them return, in their repeated attempts to rescue the Champions League from less experienced hands. It’s taken us to the depths of despair from which we recently emerged jubilant in our bold resurgence. A resurgence yet to materialize into a, no, the trophy. Succumbing to our lack of self at what seemed the last hurdle not once but thrice would be enough to defeat anybody. Anybody but Florentino Pérez. Anybody but Sergio Ramos. Anybody but Cristiano Ronaldo. Anybody but Real Madrid.
Two years ago I was here jumping and now [it’s Bayern’s] turn… we have to react with pride. These players wanted to win the trophy. Reaching two consecutive semi-finals is not bad, but we want more.
– José Mourinho
When these sides last met in 2012, Bayern Munich had their say breaking the heart of every Madrid fan as they showed potency, strength, and poise to qualify for the final. The Bavarians were the first of two German semi-final opponents in two years for Madrid. The opening chapter of the second was a furious flurry of black and yellow brilliance with a helpless Madrid falling at the feet of Jürgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund. But like a wounded animal that would not lie down, we awoke terrifically to our powers in the Santiago Bernabéu pushing Lewandowski and company to the absolute brink. A loss that wasn’t quite (one nonetheless). Congratulatory pats were given, inquisitions made, goodbyes said, and the restart button pressed.
Throughout this seemingly cursed run, the permanence of Real Madrid’s greatness remained – the largeness of the entity a staying quantity in the sport. Our soul delicately intertwined with the fabric of European football.
Madrid have achieved many European Cups in two different periods. We have recovered some of the lost prestige, but we have not won the competition, and it will come in the future. I do not know when.
– José Mourinho
So here we are again. Too afraid to peek over the wall – afraid to look beyond the present for we know too well the cruelty of dashed hopes. But it is in our hands. It is within our influence to step forward. Our adversary need no introduction, they are the best team in Europe as it currently stands. La Bestia Negra. The quintessential dragon that we must slay. We could falter and we have faltered. But just as well, we could win. We. Could. Win.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
– Marianne Williamson
One thing's certain, we are frightened.