Results don’t tell the whole story with European Champions League final

By Hilton Yip Source:Global Times Published: 2014-5-26 23:53:01

Sometimes in soccer, the score doesn't do the game justice. As in life, numbers don't always tell the full story. A 1-1 draw can be exciting, and a 3-0 win may have flattered the winners.

Saturday's European Champions League final was an excellent example. The lopsided 4-1 result disguised an intriguing contest that was in the balance up till the 110th minute in extra time.

Champions League finals are usually grand affairs, featuring the best two clubs in all of Europe (and arguably the world), but this year's final had an extra aura. The two teams were both on special but vastly different quests. European superpower Real Madrid were chasing their 10th Champions League title - the Décima - while Atletico Madrid were ­going for their first. These two Spanish finalists were even from the same city, making the final the first-ever derby.

The story line practically wrote itself. Glamorous Real taking on working-class city rivals Atletico. One of Real's stars - Gareth Bale, who Real got for a whopping $143 million - cost more than the entire Atletico roster ($91 million). Not that Atletico were suffering any inferiority complex - they had already won the Spanish league this season over Real, which finished third, and some team called Barcelona in second place.

Indeed the game was compelling; it wasn't a blowout nor was it pretty. From the start, scuffles broke out, cynical fouls were done, and yellow cards became frequent. Real's offensive ­weapons, Bale and supposedly world's best ­player ­Cristiano Ronaldo, came out firing, blanks that is.

Surprisingly, Atletico scored first. Real spent the rest of the game desperately chasing an equalizer, seeing their Décima dream slowly fade with each passing minute. That equalizer eventually came, in the last added minutes of normal time, something which ­infuriated Atletico's manager ­Diego Simeone so much it probably made him lose his mind later, when he ran onto the field to confront a Real player after their fourth goal.

Atletico may have been the underdogs, but they were no shrinking violets, employing tactics as black as their manager's wardrobe - hard fouls, timewasting, and constantly provoking their opponents. As for Real, they were the better team as the game wore on, and Atletico ran out of gas, their stamina proving to be substantially less than their resolve. When the game went into extra time, it was just a matter of time before Real scored another.

The fairy tale ending failed to materialize for Atletico, who had an amazing run to reach the final, beating the likes of AC Milan and Chelsea.

The underdogs don't always win, but they can still stand toe to toe with anyone, which Atletico showed.

Having taken over for Plymouth's finest this week, this columnist admits to being a bit nervous following in the footsteps of a legend, but is immensely grateful for the honor.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.

Posted in: Extra Time

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