Overview of how Real Madrid won 14th UEFA Champions League title

Real Madrid celebrate their 14th UEFA Champions League title.
Real Madrid celebrate their 14th UEFA Champions League title.

When Zinedine Zidane stunned Real Madrid fans by announcing his resignation as the club's coach after the 2020-2021 season, most prophets of doom predicted that the 2021-2022 season would be rough for the Spanish giants. The prophets saw more evil when the club decided to return to Carlo Ancelotti, a 62-year-old Italian coach who first coached the club between 2013-2015 before he was sacked due to a poor run of games. 

At the time Real Madrid decided to employ Ancelotti for the second time in less than eight years, the Italian coach was battling with the Everton football club. As expected, the Italian veteran coach jumped on the job, praying for the best and preparing for the worst. 

The only thing that brightened the mood of the wary fans was the UEFA Champions League group stage fixtures for the 2021-2022 campaign. Fortunately for the struggling team then, Real Madrid found themselves in Group D which comprised Italy’s Inter Milan, Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine, and FC Sheriff of Moldova. Hence, the group was expected to be an easy ride for the Spanish club. 

The big stunner 

Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema of Real Madrid.
Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema of Real Madrid. 

As expected, Real Madrid started the UEFA Champions League group stage campaign with a 1-0 win over Inter Milan away from home. When the Italian giants visited Santiago Bernabéu Stadium for the return leg, the Spanish giants spanked them 2-0. 

Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk suffered more brutality at the hands of Real Madrid than any team in Group D. The Spanish club slammed the Ukrainian club 5-0 away from home. In the return leg, Madrid won 2-1. 

The debutantes in the group, FC Sheriff not only stunned Real Madrid and their fans, but they also stunned the football world when they visited Santiago Bernabéu to slam the most successful club in the world 2-1 on September 28, 2021. At this point, many started questioning the capabilities of coach Ancelotti and the solidity of the entire team. But the criticism was put on hold when Real Madrid took the Moldovan club more seriously by smashing them with a 3-0 victory in Moldova. 

With five victories in six group games, Real Madrid finished as leaders of Group D with 15 points which was not a surprise to most football enthusiasts. Hence, the Spanish club qualified for the round of 16 stage of the Champions League as a seeded team. 

The knock-out stages of all knock-out stages: the Karim Benzema show! 

Karim Benzema celebrates a Champions League goal.

Karim Benzema celebrates a Champions League goal.

In the round of 16, Real Madrid met the star-studded Paris Saint Germain. At this point, many thought the journey of the Spanish giants was over. Unfortunately, the Spanish giants proved their critics right by losing 1-0 in the first leg of the tie in Paris. 

Then, PSG needed a draw in the second leg to knock out Real Madrid. In the second leg at Santiago Bernabéu, PSG proved that they could get more than a draw from their hosts by taking a first-half lead, thanks to Kylian Mbappe's 39th-minute strike. At this point, Madrid needed three goals to knock out the French club which was an uphill task based on the form of the two teams. 

But in the second half, Real Madrid showed the stuff they were made of through Karim Benzema who scored three goals within 17 minutes to stunned PSG and knock them out of the competition 3-2 on aggregate. 

From a star-studded team in the round of 16, to the defending champions of the UEFA Champions League, Chelsea, in the quarter-final stage, Real Madrid continued their push for a 14th Champions League title. This time around, the Spanish team started in an advantaged position after defeating the Premier League club 3-1 at Stamford Bridge, thanks to another set of Karim Benzema's hat-trick. 

Hence, the last part of the battle was in Spain and the Spanish team was expected to finish the job with ease. But Chelsea wouldn't want to go down without putting up a fight. Within 75 minutes, Chelsea proved why they were the defending champions of Europe by taking a 3-0 lead. 

At this point, Real Madrid were dead waiting to be buried. But it was not to be. Rodrygo pulled one back in the 80th minute of the game which pushed the game into extra time. In the 96th minute, Karim Benzema stepped up to be counted again with Madrid's second goal in the match which was enough to send the Spanish team to the next round 5-4 on aggregate. 

The next stage was the semi-final round. This time around, it was a date with Pep Guardiola's Manchester City. Most critics of Real Madrid expected the "Lucky run" of the Spanish club to end on the altar of a fierce City side. But the reverse was the case. 

However, the 4-3 victory Manchester City recorded over Real Madrid in the first leg made it look like Madrid's critics were right. Hence, the second leg was expected to be a complete demolition of Madrid. 

Unfortunately for the Spanish side, Manchester City took the lead in the  73rd minute at the Santiago Bernabéu which suppose to be the nail in the coffin for the Spanish giants. 

However, from nowhere, Rodrygo gave Madrid a spark of hope with a 90th-minute goal. A minute later, Rodrygo made it two goals for Madrid to push the game into extra time. As expected, Benzema stepped up again and scored a spot-kick in the 95th minute to end City's journey in the tournament 6-5 on aggregate. 

A Liverpool final, A Real Madrid victory

Coach Carlo Ancelotti celebrates with his players.

After knocking out Manchester City 6-5 on aggregate and enjoying a miraculous run in all the knockout rounds of the 2021-2022 Champions League campaign, Real Madrid booked a date with Liverpool in the final of the competition. 

The final which took place at the Stade de France in Paris was Real Madrid's 17th UEFA Champions League final in the history of the club. The last time they won the Champions League title before the 2022 edition of the tournament was in 2018. Interestingly, the Spanish club defeated Liverpool 3-1 to win the 2018 edition of the tournament. 

Hence, the 2022 UEFA Champions League final was supposed to be revenge for Liverpool. Liverpool's talisman, Mohamed Salah tweeted ahead of the final that he had "a score to settle" with the Spanish club. But things didn't work out for the Premier League club as planned. 

During the Champions League final, Liverpool recorded 24 shots, 9 of which were on target. While Madrid had just four shots, two of which were on target. In terms of possession, Liverpool recorded 54 percent of the ball possession while Madrid managed just 46 percent of the possession. 

But all those stats became meaningless as Real Madrid used their first shot on target to score the only goal of the match in the 59th minute thanks to Vinicius Junior who tapped in a well-articulated cross from Federico Valverde. The lone goal was enough to hand Real Madrid their record-extending 14th UEFA Champions League title. 

After the miraculous triumph, Real Madrid's talisman, Karim Benzema said: “There is no luck. You can be lucky once but not every time. We deserve our victory. We put in the effort, we came back every time, we never gave up."

While the club's president, Florentino Perez said: “Real Madrid has made history again, and here is our 14th European Cup and 35th La Liga trophy.

“This European Cup won against a legendary club like Liverpool, will be remembered as one of the greatest in the history of the Champions League.

“This club’s legend grows bigger and bigger. We have beaten four of the best teams in Europe by fighting and always believing until the end.

“It has been a wonderful season and it has been achieved in one of the most beautiful and difficult times in our history. Five Champions Leagues in eight years is something very difficult for football fans to forget from all over the world. Madrid is eternal. And now, let’s go for the 15th.”

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