The curtain came down on the European club season on Saturday in Paris when Real Madrid lived up to their illustrious history and captured the Champions League.
The 1-0 victory against Liverpool marked the 14th time Los Blancos captured Europe’s continental club championship.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) May 28, 2022
The match, delayed by 30 minutes because of issues outside the venue ahead of kickoff, was decided when Vinicius Jr. scored the game’s lone goal after 59 minutes. For Real Madrid, it was a season of destiny after coming back in the knockout rounds against Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City.
The game was a rematch of the 2018 final in Kyiv, where Real Madrid emerged victorious following a 3-1 result.
Here are three things we learned.
Real are once again the best team in the world
Winning the UCL makes you by default the planet’s best team given all the global talent that plays in Europe. In the case of Real Madrid, it’s not just hyperbole. It’s the truth given how they have played this season.
Real just know how to win finals. They get the job done. The team showed both guile in the offensive third and poise in the back. Vinicius Jr., the 21-year-old Brazilian striker, showed the world that he is among the best forwards in the world.
VINICIUS JR. has scored first in the Champions League Final Match against Liverpool…⚽
— Sangpu Changsan (@_sangpuchangsan) May 28, 2022
It’s true that the defense won the game for Real Madrid. Extra kudos go to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. His nine saves were one of the keys to victory.
Give Benzema the Ballon d’Or right now
The Lionel Messi-Cristiano Ronaldo grip on this prize will certainly come to an end come October when it is awarded again. You don’t have to wait until the fall to award the prize, just hand it to xxx now.
Ballon d'Or loading ⏳ pic.twitter.com/e3QAiN082X
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 28, 2022
Benzema didn’t score in the final, but his pace kept Real on the front foot for much of the second half. He did score near the end of the first half, but the goal was controversially disallowed.
The Frenchman finishes as the UCL’s top scorer this season with 15 goals. Give him the Ballon d’Or now!
Chaos outside the stadium deserves a wider probe
The next few days will bring into better focus exactly what happened outside the Stade de France before the game.
There are plenty of photos and videos, documented by journalists at the game, that were both upsetting and disturbing.
Pepper spraying fans outside stadium in Paris pic.twitter.com/drgzEpR9gD
— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) May 28, 2022
The chaos, which included fans climbing over gates and police pepper straying Liverpool supporters, needs to be probed by French authorities and UEFA. What happened was inexcusable, marring an otherwise wonderful game.