Against All Odds: Madrid’s 2021/22 UCL campaign

Real Madrid are the undisputed kings of Europe, the biggest club in the world and the dominators of the Champions League. The Spanish side have won 14 Champions Leagues, which is twice as many as the second most successful team in the competition.

From securing La Decima in 2014 to completing the threepeat in 2018, the history of this club speaks for itself. The latest addition to their collection of Champions League trophies came in 2022. It was a campaign filled with drama, hope and unwavering belief.

This Wednesday we are going to look back on Real Madrid’s special 2021/22 Champions League campaign. Praising the stand out players that made their triumph possible.

Group stages

Real Madrid were drawn into Group D along with Inter Milan, Sheriff Tiraspol and Shakhtar Donetsk. They were expected to fly through their group but quickly experienced a bump in the road.

The Spanish side were defeated at home by Moldovan side Sheriff Tiraspol. This was the their first time in the Champions League group stages and they had already defeated the heavyweights of the competition.

After this, Real Madrid got back on the right path as they won all of their remaining games. This meant they ended top of the group with 15 points.

Round of 16: Real Madrid vs PSG

Although it was still early in the knockout stages, Real Madrid had a hard fixture against French side PSG.

PSG were favourites in this tie thanks to their front three: Mbappé, Messi and Neymar.

Messi, Neymar and Mbappé clapping. They will play Real Madrid in the champions league round of 16.

First Leg

In the first leg, Los Blancos managed to hold on for the entire game. This was before conceding a 90th minute goal scored by PSG’s star man Kylian Mbappé.

Immediately afterwards, the first wave of doubters started to flood in as many thought the star power of PSG’s front three was enough to send Real Madrid out of the competition.

Second Leg

The second leg took place at the Bernabeu. Despite being at home, Madrid had the worst imaginable start as Mbappé put his side ahead yet again before half time.

However, the narrative of the second half was completely different. Los Blancos managed to come back from the two 2 goal disadvantage thanks to their striker Karim Benzema.

The Frenchman put in a historic second half performance as he scored a hat trick in 17 minutes. His goals put his team ahead on aggregate and into the quarter finals of the competition.

As impressive as the comeback was, it was dismissed by many football fans online as a ‘fluke’ and something that wouldn’t happen again.

Quarter finals: Real Madrid vs Chelsea

In April, Real Madrid now took a trip to the blue side of London to face Chelsea.

First Leg

Unlike in the round of 16, they were successful against Chelsea away from home. Winning the game 3-1.

In this game Benzema scored yet another hat trick. He was the first player to score back to back hatricks in the Champions League knockout stages since his former teammate Cristiano Ronaldo in 2017.

At this stage of the season, Benzema was beginning to get Balon d’Or shouts thanks to his performances in both Europe and La Liga.

Second leg

Los Blancos were now expected to go through due to the comfortable lead they had. But despite this, the game did not go as planned.

Chelsea managed to go ahead on aggregate thanks to three goals from Mason Mount and international teammates Rüdiger and Werner.

The Blues only had to hold on for 15 more minutes to secure their place in the semi finals. But a moment of magic from Real Madrid made the London side unsure about their semi final qualification.

Midfield Maestro Luka Modrić pulled out an inch perfect travela cross to assist Rodrygo in the 80th minute which now put the sides level on aggregate.

As the game went to extra time, the Real Madrid supporters were now louder than ever. And in the 96th minute the side managed to capitalise off their momentum. Vinicius Jr, who had been having a good game, put in a cross which was headed away by Ballon d’Or bound Karim Benzema. 

This goal took Real Madrid through to the next round and took Karim’s goal tally up to 38 goals.

The narrative now became that Real Madrid had ‘fluked’ their way to the semi finals as Chelsea didn’t put the game to bed. Additionally, there were now shouts that the real test will be against ruthless Premier League holders Manchester City.

Semi finals: Real Madrid vs Manchester City

Despite many underwhelming exits, many now believed that this was the year that Manchester City would win the Champions League.

First Leg

The first leg was held at the Etihad and would go onto be a seven goal thriller.

Star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne put his side ahead in only the second minute of the game. And Gabriel Jesus doubled their lead in the 11th minute.

Benzema ensured that Madrid went into half time only one goal behind by scoring in the 32nd minute.

In the second half, Foden put his side two goals up again only 8 minutes after half time.

Although Manchester City were the better side on the day, the tenacity of Real Madrid did not decline.

Vinicius Jr clapped back at Fodens goal with a breaktaking solo goal of his own.

Two more goals followed in the final 20 minutes.

The first from Bernardo Silva to put his side up 4-2. And the second from main man Karim Benzema. His goal would prove to be vital going into the second leg.

Second Leg

The second leg at the Bernabeu was arguably Real Madrids most dramatic of the whole competition.

The game remained goal less for the entirety of the first half with the second half following suit. This was until the 73rd minute where City Winger Riyad Mahrez put his side 1-0 up.

The aggregate scoreline was now 5-3 in City’s favour. and with only 17 minutes of regular time left Real Madrid needed 3 goals to get to the final.

The game went down to the wire as the scoreline remained the same until the final minute of the game. With the odds stacked up against them, Real Madrid would be fuelled with belief again thanks to substitute Rodrygo. The Brazillian managed to score two goals in two minutes to send the game into extra time.

The stars were beginning to align once again for Real Madrid as they were awarded a penalty in the 94th minute of extra time. Benzema stepped up and camly placed the ball in the bottom right corner. Inevitable.

After such a dramatic game, Real Madrid went on to win the game and make it to the final.

Final: Real Madrid vs Liverpool

Football supporters now started to accept the fact that this was more than luck and that a Champions League heritage club like Madrid just know how to get the job done. And in the final they did exactly that.

The final hurdle Real Madrid had to overcome was Liverpool.

After a goal less first half, a back post goal scored by Vinicius Jr in the 59th minute would be enough to win them the game.

However one of the performances from Real Madrid stood out above all. This performance was produced by Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian kept a clean sheet and made 9 vital saves to ensure Real Madrid won their 14th Champions League title. His performance saw him win the Man of the Match award for this game too.

Because of their impressive season, Los Blancos went on to sweep all the trophies as Benzema won the UEFA mens Player of the Year, as well as the ballon d’Or. And coach Carlo Ancelotti won the Manager of the Year award.

Real Madrid’s victory against Liverpool in the 2022 final will be remembered as a defining moment in their illustrious history, elevating their status as the undisputed kings of Europe.

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