Two goalkeeping howlers and a world class strike will come to define the 2018 Champions League final, but the truth is that the narrative was so much richer than that.
With the odds stacked against them, up until Real Madrid’s opening goal, Liverpool had matched the Spaniards in every department.
It’s true that Los Blancos were in the ascendancy once Mo Salah had gone off, a blow from which the Reds ultimately never recovered, but players such as young Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane were showing enough purpose in their play as to given the English side hope.
Indeed, on a night when Roberto Firmino was barely noticeable, it was Mane that got them back on terms after Loris Karius has inexplicably handed Karim Benzema the opening goal.
Much has been made of that mistake, but nothing said about the vicious elbow to the head he received from Sergio Ramos a couple of minutes before. Is it possible he was still suffering the after effects? Perhaps.
Gareth Bale’s incredible overhead kick will go down in the history books and might even just edge out Zidane’s volley as the best Champions League final goal of all time.
However, in amidst all of this, Luka Modric was quietly and efficiently going about his business as usual.
Bridging the gap between defence and attack with effortless ease, his brush strokes were light and masterful.
Nothing fancy, just pure understated brilliance. Another game to sit back and enjoy the Croatian’s majesty.
The type of game where the midfielder would go unnoticed for long periods but take him out of the equation and you’d be watching an entirely different final.
Zidane knows exactly what the player brings to each and every game and that’s why, when available, Modric’s inclusion is unquestionable.
He remains one of the most important components in the Real Madrid machine, and one they can’t afford to lose.
Unlike Cristiano Ronaldo, who, after an incredibly poor final on a personal level, couldn’t wait for the dust to settle before declaring, for the umpteenth time, that his journey with Los Blancos may be about to come to an end.
His timing shows a real lack of class but what’s new?! The Portuguese has ensured everyone is talking about him again on a night when he was completely anonymous and where the Ballon d’Or might be at stake.
His name, along with Bale’s and Karius’ will keep the headline writers busy, but this was the Modric final and it’s a great shame that such quality will remain under the radar for many.
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