Champions League Final: Los Blancos vs The Reds


Getty Images, photographer Michael Regan (2022)

Aidan G (Year 12), Chief Contributor

The UEFA Champions League trophy is one of the most prestigious trophies in all of football. On Sunday morning, millions of people around the world gathered around their TVs to watch two giants, England’s Liverpool and Spain’s Real Madrid, battle it out to be crowned Kings of Europe.  

Both of their campaigns began in September last year, with each team fighting hard in order to secure victory after victory as they made their way through the group stages, Round of 16, Quarter Final and Semi-Final. After a gruelling journey, only these two sides were left to play their final 90 minutes of football in the competition and endeavour to win this ultimate title.  

5 AM AEST: Millions of people around Australia wake up and turn their TVs on, anticipation running through their veins, excited to see a world-class football match by two teams dominating their respective leagues. For Liverpool, fans see the likes of Mo Salah, Virgil Van Dijk, Sadio Mané and Jordan Henderson ready to lead their team. Yet they also see Karim Benzema, Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos determined to see Real Madrid become victorious for the 14th time in history.  

And so, the whistle blows, and the match begins: 

A slow first 15 minutes to the match, with neither team having much luck in the opposition’s half, was ended by Liverpool’s Mo Salah’s shot on target brilliantly saved by Real Madrid’s Courtois, diving to his left. A minute later, the deadly combination of Mané and Salah again led to another shot on goal, once again saved by Courtois, and it seemed as though Liverpool was starting to gain momentum. Barely two minutes later a brilliant shot by Mané into the bottom left was met by an even more brilliant, outstretched hand from Courtois, as he knocked the ball into the post… saving a certain goal.  

Unfortunately for Liverpool, they couldn’t maintain this momentum, and in the 42nd minute, Real Madrid’s Benzema managed to put the ball in the back of the net. It looked as though Real Madrid were 1-0 up until a VAR check revealed that he was offside. Real Madrid fans all around the globe were elated and then quickly distraught by this sudden change in fortune. 45 minutes was up, and the halftime whistle blew. The matchup was at a stalemate.  

Despite one dangerous cross from Liverpool, the early minutes of the second half mimicked the first half until in the 58th minute magic took place. A simple pass to Real Madrid’s Valverde on the wing, and his elegant ball-carrying skills led to his fantastic cross from one side of the box to the other, connecting with Vini Júnior’s right foot, racing straight past the keeper and finding the back of the net. The stands erupted in celebration. 1-0. This spectacular goal could have just won Real Madrid the Champions League Final.  

Fuelled by a passion for football and subtle apprehensiveness about the fact they were losing, Liverpool fought harder and harder, and in the 63rd minute a beautiful left-foot shot from outside the box by Mo Salah looked as though it could even the score, yet the shot was once again denied by keeper Courtois. And again, in the 68th minute, Liverpool’s hopes were crushed by Courtois, as his calf saved a beautiful shot from Mo Salah. Again in the 79th minute, Courtois somehow conjured another amazing save. Astonishingly, in the 81st minute after a beautiful run by Mo Salah, and a fantastic shot, Courtois managed to save Real Madrid’s hopes of being Champions League victors again, this time using his forearm. Courtois truly was the definition of a wall in net.  

And after 90 minutes of true perseverance and grit from both teams, the final whistle blew, and Real Madrid had won. Coaches, substitutes, and reserves alike burst onto the field to celebrate this momentous occasion, the highlight of careers for some, as Real Madrid poised themselves to lift the trophy. 

Despite Real Madrid’s win, the passion and hard work displayed by Liverpool cannot be forgotten. Liverpool had 24 shots compared to Real Madrid’s 4, and Liverpool’s 9 shots on target overshadows Real Madrid’s 2, yet at the end of the day, the effort from Man of the Match Thibaut Courtois was impeccable and his 9 incredible saves earnt Real Madrid the trophy and the club’s 14th Champions League title.