Champions League final 2022: Thibaut Courtois clutch saves Real Madrid’s UCL winning pedigree


Champions League final 2022: Thibaut Courtois clutch saves Real Madrid's UCL winning pedigree

PARIS – Real Madrid may not leave the French capital with Kylian Mbappe, but they do take home a 14th UEFA Champions League trophy after beating Liverpool 1-0 at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Vinicius Junior scored the only goal of the game around the hour but the spectacle of Saint-Denis was alas marred by the chaotic scenes of fans were unable to enter the venue in time for kick-off as the Reds had already asked questions.

It was far from pretty in the final and the atmosphere was further dampened when it became clear that there were major problems in and around the stadium and it was an opportunistic Real who broke the nose thanks to a masterclass from Thibaut Courtois between the two in front had sticks.

Karim Benzema was penalized for offside in the first half after a VAR check but Vinicius’ shot from Federico Valverde just before the hour was Los Blancos’ only shot on target in 90 minutes as the Spanish giants somehow held Liverpool at bay.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have done well, with shots on goal close to double figures, but they found Courtois in inspired form and the Belgium international once again showed his value for Carlo Ancelotti’s side as he clinched his UCL crown.

“I don’t get enough respect back in England,” said Courtois after the final whistle. “So, well, I showed it today. I wanted to show my name some respect there.”

Courtois’ nine saves that night were the most ever recorded by a goalkeeper in a single Champions League final since 2003/04. according to Opta. Liverpool won the xG fight by 2.14 to .88 but went away empty handed due to Courtois’ exploits.

Whether or not Real’s approach is a valid approach in the long run given their aging squad and inability to truly dominate opponents remains to be seen, but their failure to land Mbappe means any planned summer rebuild will need to be reconsidered.

Based on that performance, the French superstar wouldn’t have simply made the La Liga champions a superior side given Liverpool’s impressive championship in just about everything but finish – they didn’t even need a contribution from top scorer Benzema in the end.

However, this fits with the feeling that has been inescapable for some time that Real were destined to win this game due to their ability to dig their way out of holes either through their French marksman or Courtois’ incredible performances in goal.

A run that has seen Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City all autumn is as impressive as they come and Ancelotti has masterfully steered his side through this minefield, with key contributions from star names and a good dose of luck.

What’s next for Real is unclear, but it’s hard to imagine there’s much more mileage to be had this current season, despite Benzema’s ability to regroup as a top athlete in the latter stages of his career and Luka Modric’s continued brilliance.

If this winning formula finally wears off, it can be argued that the time could be right for Mbappe to finally make the move to the Santiago Bernabeu – provided the Spaniards get over his recent rejection.

Until then, however, Ancelotti is squeezing every drop of success from this group, and while it’s not down to collective brilliance, it is through individual performances of the highest quality that they have achieved such results.

However, Real’s Champions League pedigree is beyond doubt, with an unprecedented 14th title and four of the last seven further underscoring his absolute dominance of European football’s greatest prize.

You May Also Like