It’s been three years to the day that Gareth Bale scored one of the greatest goals in Champions League final history, and Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3 - 1 in Kiev in what was Cristiano Ronaldo’s last game in a white shirt.
From the Managing Madrid archives, Kiyan Sobhani’s immediate reaction at the final whistle:
What. A. Rollercoaster.
This game had everything — tactical frailties, game-altering injuries, black magic, anxiety, and a goal that will never, ever be forgotten.
The anxiety was induced when the starting line-ups were released. We could only chuckle (nervously), at Managing Madrid. Last week I had written nearly four thousand words on how Klopp would be licking his lips had he known he was going up against a diamond with Gareth Bale on the bench. It turns out, a lot of those concerns were valid. Liverpool’s press to start was, unsurprisingly, incredible. They eliminated Real Madrid’s ability to build through the flanks, and unnerved Casemiro into giving the ball away more than once — with the first one happening in the very first minute. The coverage for Marcelo was not that bad, as Ramos doubled-up on the flanks efficiently (though he was spread thing at times), but Modric had a lot of right-wing duties, and neither the defending nor attacking in transition was efficient.
Real Madrid had possession, but, like against Bayern Munich, it was laborious, and the lack of outlets was staggering. Zidane’s men just couldn’t penetrate the final third.
Things changed due to an unfortunate situation: an injury to Mohamed Salah in the first half after a Sergio Ramos challenge. Salah, in tears, was forced off for Adam Lallana. From that moment, Liverpool’s presence on the right flank dissipated, their press waned from super-aggressive to hedging off into a lower block. Real Madrid were able to take advantage of a defanged Liverpool side, and schematic issues and all, were able to start pinning Klopp’s men and keep possession higher up the pitch, while creating more chances.
Here are the highlights from that unforgettable day:
Where were you when this happened?