Ancelotti's Real stick to script for more European glory

football01 June 2024 22:46| ยฉ Reuters
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Carlo Ancelotti ยฉ Gallo Images

It is a common refrain that the most-decorated coaches are also the luckiest ones and while Carlo Ancelotti might not agree, fate smiled on him again as Real Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 on Saturday to win the Champions League for the sixth time in 11 seasons.

Italian Ancelotti was unruffled on the touchline inside a thunderous Wembley Stadium as his Madrid side were outplayed for large swathes of the final by an impressive Dortmund side who belied their status as huge underdogs.

Dortmund keeper Gregor Kobel was not required to make a save in the opening 45 minutes while at the other end, Karim Adeyemi wasted a golden one-on-one chance and Niclas Fuellkrug prodded a shot against the inside of the post.

When Fuellkrug failed with another headed chance just past the hour mark, it suddenly felt inevitable that Ancelotti would have his hands on the trophy for a record-extending fifth time as a coach โ€“ two with Milan and now three with Real Madrid.

The 64-year-old had seen it all before and he knows better than anyone how the story usually ends.

So it proved, as Real Madrid gradually roused themselves and veteran right-back Dani Carvajal glanced in a corner by Toni Kroos in the 74th minute.

Dortmund probably knew they were destined to witness another Real Madrid coronation and when Vinicius Jr. broke clear to fire in the second goal a 15th European Cup was in the bag for Los Blancos.

Identifying quite how they wrote the latest chapter in their rich history was puzzling though โ€“ the best explanation being that it is just what this club does.

Did they win the tactical battle? No. Did the Spanish champions impose their supposed superiority on a side that finished fifth in the Bundesliga? Hardly.

Did Brazilian Vinicius torment Dortmund's Norwegian right-back Julian Ryerson or veteran centre back Mats Mats Hummels? Sporadically.

Did Jude Bellingham shine in his first Champions League final? Not really. In fact, the 20-year-old former Dortmund midfielder had one of his least effective games of a stupendous first season at the Bernabeu.


In the cold light of day, none of that mattered as Real won their 11th successive European final โ€“ their last defeat in one coming 41 years ago against Aberdeen in the Cup Winners' Cup.

"It was difficult. I didn't like the level we were playing. In the first half, we suffered; in the second half, we lost the ball less and played better โ€“ but those are all trifling details now. We won. The dream continues," Ancelotti said.

Real Madrid lacked a clear method in the first half compared to a well-drilled Dortmund side who did everything right except put the ball in the net.

But just like their wily manager on the touchline โ€“ Real's seasoned winners knew all they had to do was stay calm, bide their time and history would repeat itself.

Dortmund's Hummels, who suffered Champions League final heartache for the second time, summed it up.

"We played with courage and bravery but we failed to score. Then we made small mistakes and Real score. They have been doing it like that for what feels 100 years," he said.

Carvajal has now won the Champions League six times with Real Madrid, as has Luka Modric who came on as a substitute for Kroos, matching the feat of Madrid great Paco Gento.

For Kroos it was the best way to bring to an end his glittering Real career. But while players come and go, for this soccer dynasty what never changes is their knack of delivering when it really matters.

Ancelotti does not believe in the idea of luck.

"There's something special in this club," Ancelotti, who also has two European Cup winners' medals as a player, said before the final.

"Maybe it's the history, maybe it's the tradition, the class. But there have been so many, that it can't be just chance."