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Three takeaways from Real Madrid 2-0 Borussia Dortmund | UEFA Champions League final

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Photo by GLYN KIRK/AFP via Getty Images

The night at Wembley was always meant to be special for Real Madrid. The men in white simply do not lose finals and their record in the Champions League only improved as he lifted the trophy after a hard-fought win over Borussia Dortmund.

Credit where it is deserved, the Germans came out with all guns blazing and were scintillating for the better part of the game. All that Real Madrid required to get over the line, however, were two moments of magic.

Dani Carvajal opened the scoring for the team in the 74th minute with a towering header from a tight angle before a mistake from Ian Maatsen gifted Vinicius Jr with a clear goal-scoring chance that the youngster accepted graciously.

Crowned champions of Spain, and now of Europe, Real Madrid’s 2023-24 season officially comes to a close and it is safe to say that it has been a very memorable one.

Madrid Universal brings you three takeaways from the team’s record-breaking 15th UCL win last night.

Deserving is not earning

There was a lot of noise surrounding Real Madrid’s fourteenth UEFA Champions League title as many claimed that Liverpool deserved to win the title based on their performance in the final. Real Madrid’s goal against the run of play, in the eyes of many, was undeserving.

Deserving, however, is not winning in football. There is a large discrepancy between the two terms that are often overlooked and that can be singled out as Los Blancos’ clinical finishing in front of the goal.

Last night, once more, the men in white were not the better team. For the better part of 60 minutes, Borussia Dortmund had the upper hand over the Spanish giants and even appeared to be cruising to a win.

Karim Adeyemi gave rise to recurrent problems down the team’s right flank and led the counters for Dortmund with his fiery pace. No prizes for guessing who came out on top in the footrace between the youngster and Dani Carvajal, and Real Madrid were on the edge.

Dani Carvajal had the last laugh (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Down the right, Marcel Sabitzer and Jadon Sancho created a similar threat, pinning Ferland Mendy to a great defensive challenge at Wembley. 

Dortmund’s chances on the night amounted to an xG of 2.08 and included three big chances and a staggering 13 shots on target. What did not go in their favour, however, was the finishing as the ball simply did not cross the line.

Real Madrid turned up the heat for just the final 15 or 20 minutes in London, and the two chances that came their way were buried with conviction. Dani Carvajal pulled off a stunning header to give his side the lead while Vinicius Jr scored in his second consecutive UCL final to seal the deal.

Over 90 minutes, Real Madrid were indeed not the better side. All that mattered, however, was the composure they showed in the face of goal during the ten minutes they really turned up.

La Decimoquinta (“The Fifteenth”)

The win at Wembley will go down in the history books as one of the most significant wins in Real Madrid’s history for multiple reasons, the biggest of which is the magnitude of the accomplishment.

Fifteen UEFA Champions League titles. Let that sink in. The greatness defined by Los Blancos’ sheer consistency and dominance in the competition is second to none and last night only furthered their status as the kings of the competition.

For perspective, the club with the next highest tally is AC Milan at seven titles, a figure less than half of Real Madrid’s count.

Four veterans – Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Nacho Fernandez and Dani Carvajal – won their sixth Champions League title on the night. Barring Real Madrid and AC Milan, that tally is equal to or greater than the all-time trophy tally of every other club in existence. 

A memorable night for Real Madrid (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

The final accomplishment to be celebrated is that of Carlo Ancelotti who won his fifth UCL title as a manager last night. Now heads and shoulders above other elite managers, he has secured his status as one of the greatest managers of all time. For perspective, his closest competitors are Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane at three each.

Danke Kroos

It is close to impossible to take away any negatives from a Europe-conquering night. In Real Madrid’s case last night, however, there was such a matter involved.

Even close to fifteen days after his announcement, it simply does not feel real that Toni Kroos will not don a Real Madrid shirt as a player again. His farewell at the Santiago Bernabeu still feels like a fabricated lie and the fact that last night was the last time he graced the field for Los Blancos is difficult to come to terms with.

The German superstar, after all, was in superb form all season. Playing as a regular starter through the campaign, he not only shone in advanced midfield but also as the pivot when called upon by the manager.

Last night, when the game appeared clearly in Dortmund’s park, it was Kroos who set up Dani Carvajal for the team’s opening goal with a well-worked set-piece. In 90 minutes, the departing legend provided four key passes, had two shots on target and completed 97% of his passes at Wembley.

Now that his era as a club footballer has officially come to an end, it is safe to say that Madrid and Spain will miss his presence. The European championship will be his final tournament as a player for the midfield maestro who will go down as one of the greatest ever.

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Five players who will be fixed starters for Real Madrid next season

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

Following a successful campaign, Real Madrid are poised for significant changes in their roster due to a combination of player arrivals and departures.

The responsibility of blending new faces with established stars will fall to coach Carlo Ancelotti and his staff as they aim to maintain the club’s competitive edge domestically and in Europe.

And to predict the team’s probable strategy and performance amidst these changes, it is imperative to identify the key players who will be constant starters.

Kylian Mbappe

The new talisman. (Photo by ROMAIN PERROCHEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

With Real Madrid no longer viewing Mbappe through rose-tinted lenses and finally being able to dress him in the royal white jersey, the Frenchman is expected to be one of the first names on the team sheet.

Owing to his instinctive nature to find the back of the net, he is poised to be paired alongside Vinicius Jr. in attack.

Last season, the 2018 World Cup winner scored a whopping 44 goals in all competitions. Thus Real Madrid will be banking heavily on Mbappe’s ability to ask questions of opposition defenders in the final third.

It is being said that Mbappe is all set to wear the iconic number 9 jersey at Real Madrid, which is indicative of the role he will play, as a focal striker.

Vinicius Jr.

The main man at Real Madrid. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The Brazilian is in pole position to win the Ballon d’Or this year, and looking back on his season with Real Madrid, it is easy to see why.

Despite losing Karim Benzema, his usual partner in crime over the past few years, Vinicius performed remarkably well in Ancelotti’s new system.

Relentlessly taking on defenders, arriving into space, scoring goals, and stepping up in the biggest of moments, he was one of Real Madrid’s major lynchpins throughout the season as they lifted a historic double.

Vinicius impressively racked up 24 goals last season, and given his importance to the team, the likelihood of him not maintaining a starting role next season is nearly nonexistent.

Jude Bellingham

Real Madrid Fans’ Player of the Season. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Defying all expectations in his debut season, Jude Bellingham established himself as a key player for Real Madrid, demonstrating exceptional versatility, and maturity far beyond his years.

Although the Englishman’s performances wavered in the final stretch of the season, Bellingham’s contributions ensured Los Blancos were able to compete in the Champions League and especially La Liga.

In addition to scoring 23 goals in all competitions, he has constantly been a beacon of reliability in midfield and has proven to be the voice of reason on the pitch.

There have been murmurs about Bellingham potentially being berthed deeper next season as Real Madrid intends to use him as Kroos’ replacement. However, given his versatility, he is expected to be a crucial player wherever he plays.

Antonio Rudiger

A mainstay at the back. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

Rudiger is one of the major reasons Real Madrid managed to successfully disguise their injury crisis. Despite players falling like dominos in the back-line, the German stood resolutely as a dependable figure for most of the campaign, arguably enjoying one of his best seasons.

Expertly anticipating opposition strikers’ movements, he leaps forward to thwart attacks before they begin. Moreover, thanks to his large stature and incredible recovery pace, he is able to cover distances behind.

Reports have mentioned that Carlo Ancelotti views him as a crucial component of the squad and potential arrivals, such as those of Leny Yoro and Rafa Marin, in the back-line are unlikely to devalue his presence.

Thibaut Courtois

Back like he was never gone. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

In spite of spending more than half of the campaign on the sidelines recovering from an ACL and MCL injury, Courtois is worth his weight in gold for Real Madrid.

He performed admirably in the final few games of the season and did no wrong against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final.

While Andriy Lunin made up for his absence with flying colours, he is placed below Courtois in the pecking order for now, which also has made the Ukrainian lean towards an exit.

The fact that Lunin, after his sublime season, stands no chance of dethroning Courtois between the sticks is a testament to how much the club appreciates the Belgian. Even at the age of 32, the Belgian keeper is anticipated to retain an important role in the team.

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