With the Champions League final nine days out, I figured it would be good to take a look back at this season’s campaign, and the numbers that got Real Madrid where they are now — looking down the barrel of a fourth Champions League title in five years.
Just look at the road they had to take to Kiev: Paris Saint Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich — all oh whom they defeated. No one can say that Real Madrid had it easy going into the Champions League final. Overall in the European Cup / Champions League, Real Madrid are 253 - 74 - 95, with a goal differential of +482.
In this Champions League season, Los Blancos played 12 matches and went 8 - 2 - 2, scoring 30 goals (19 of the 30 were scored by the right foot, six with the left, three from a header, and two that are listed as ‘other’). Of those 30, 24 were scored from inside the area, four from outside the box, and four from the penalty spot. Real Madrid were deadly inside the 18-yard box, as they should be. All in all, they scored at a rate of 2.5 goals per match.
Los Merengues had 208 attempts on goal. This amounted to 86 shots on target, with 75 off target. They hit the post eigh times, and had a total of 47 shots blocked. As far as crosses into the box, you’re looking at 317 attempted crosses — only 77 were completed. Which, if you do the math, is only 24% success rate.
Real Madrid’s passing rate was much better. They completed 89% of their passes, and relied on medium passes which makes up 62% of passes completed. They only used the long ball about 10% of the time, which is, about right for this club.
Now, lets look at the goalkeeping stats.
Overall, Real Madrid allowed just 1.2 goals per match.
Clean sheets were had to come by this season as they were only able to post three. If you go back to Navas’s ‘super season’ (2015 - 2016), he was the best keeper in the tournament, collecting nine clean sheets in just 11 matches. This term? Just two clean sheets in 10 matches, which is good for just 14th in the Champions League this term.
In case you were wondering, Liverpool’s Loris Karius leads the competition with six clean sheets in 12 matches.
There were a couple of other interesting numbers on the defensive end. Real Madrid had 548 recoveries, 46 blocks, and 165 clearances. They were fouled 126 times and accumulated 21 yellow cards.
· I’ve been rough on Keylor Navas. I’m still not overly happy about his performance this season — but come Saturday the 26th, he needs to be at his stellar best. Liverpool are a dangerous club. Mohamed Salah is the Premier Leagues Gold Boot winner and will be looking to make a meal of the Real Madrid defense.
· Speaking of defense, they too need to be at their very best. They’ve been shaky at times – even chaotic.
· If everyone’s healthy I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see the BBC or Bale out wide with CR7 and Benzema up top in a strike partnership. But, I’ve been wrong before.
· I’m happy we have only one more league match. I just hope we end the year on a high note.
· At the beginning of the season, I predicted a treble-winning season coming off the high that was 2016/2017. All your hate takes are deserved. I have possibly jinxed us.
While I’m not a total nervous mess yet, in the days leading up to the final in Kiev, I will be. I’ve gone out and collected paper sacks to breathe into if I start to hyperventilate. Seriously though, I’ve been nervous about Champions League finals before –- but this one feels different.
A lot of history can be made that night. First and foremost, the team can win back-to-back-to-back titles. That would make four in the last five years. When are people going to wake up and realize that Spain dominates in Europe? It’s acknowledged by some – but it’s glaringly obvious that Spain has ruled the roost in the past decade.
I want us to make history. Will I be disappointed if we don’t? Well sure, I’ll lose myself in the World Cup for a couple months and as soon as you know it, it starts all over again. Circle of life, etc.
Enough waxing poetic, where were we? Champions League final in Kiev on Saturday the 26th. If Real Madrid can beat three different league champions, they can take on the fourth-place team in the Premier League.
It comes down to making history. One night.