“Real Madrid do not play Finals. They win them”
This is the only thought going through my head whenever I begin panicking about the game tonight. Real Madrid have a chance to win their third straight UEFA Champions League trophy and the fourth in five years. We have beaten Atletico Madrid twice as well as Juventus in the past three finals we have played. This season, we were able to eliminate Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and Bayern Munich in order for us to book a place in the Kiev against Liverpool. Statistically, this is a game that we should win. We are favorites. Then again, this is the UEFA Champions League Final. There are no favorites.
Many fans relish this feeling of nerves and anxiety and feeling like the whole world will be a better place if their team wins the match. Not me. Even though we have been in a ridiculous amount of finals in the past few years, this is not a feeling I get used to. Every time it happens, I feel like it is even worse than the time before.
A picture of Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcelo and Carlos Casemiro has been going around as they took their picture in the suits once they have arrived to the airport for the final. They have done this every year. It has become a superstition. Not only that, Zinedine Zidane held a team barbecue at their Valdebebas training ground, just like he has done in the past two seasons. Before the 2016 final, Sergio Ramos took a few players such as Luka Modric and Keylor Navas to his house in Seville to get away from all the chaos and be able to redirect their focus on the match. Keylor Navas invited the full team this year to the opening of “Hombre de fe: Keylor Navas”, which is a movie based on the Costa Rican’s life. Furthermore, some players only did interviews with the same media outlets that they have in previous years while former Real Madrid Presidents were invited to the game in order to bring luck to the squad.
For me, well, it’s not as interesting. I am wearing my “Los Meregues; Keep The Faith” t-shirt that I sleep in before every major match. I have already prepared the jersey that I have worn for the past two finals; it’s the dark blue Real Madrid top with “Casillas” and the number 25 on the back, which I purchased after the legendary goalkeeper left the club that he spent 25 years in. Last season, I wore a Real Madrid watch which in all honesty doesn’t look too great but it was a gift I received from a family friend that went to the Santiago Bernabeu many years ago and brought it back with him. Finally, and probably most importantly, anytime I am driving, the only song allowed to be played in my car for the full day is “Hala Madrid Y Nada Mas”. There is no debate there.
The nerves are in full swing, hence my reason for writing this article. I haven’t written too many “personal” pieces on my blog but today is different. Today, we fight for our 13th UEFA Champions League trophy. I can sit here and say that no matter what happens, we should be extremely proud of what we have achieved in the past few years, and it’s true. We have done something that many top European clubs don’t even dream of. But no. Pride is something that I feel about this club no matter what. If we lost tonight, it will be chaos. It will be difficult to accept. It will be painful. It will bring out all types of emotions that I don’t even want to imagine right now.
Liverpool are a strong club and a club that have earned the right to be respected by every single football fan in the world. But we are are Real Madrid and we have made it this far. There is no turning back. There is no way we can accept a loss or even a mediocre performance. We will be standing together no matter where you are in the world counting the seconds until we can watch Sergio Ramos lift that trophy once again. After that, we go home and wait for the team to reach Cibeles and watch the celebrations happen as our team is congratulated. None of that can happen without the squad doing their job. If they take Liverpool lightly, we will suffer and lose. Every single person needs to be on their A-Game tonight as anything less will result in a loss. You can underestimate the English club all you want, they have reached the Final and deserve to be here. That alone should show how dangerous they are.
Tonight is the night where our season can be labelled a success or a failure. On paper, Los Blancos have the better squad but we know all too well that no matches are won on paper. Every bit of the squad needs to be left on the pitch tonight. It will be 90 minutes (hopefully not more!) of absolute hell and anything can happen…
Hala Madrid y Nada Mas
A Por La 13