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Real Madrid- Lucky or plucky?


Real Madrid take on Liverpool in this Saturday’s Champions League final in Paris; Carlo Ancelotti’s side produced comeback wins against PSG, Man City and Chelsea en route to the final; Karim Benzema, Rodrygo, Eduardo Camavinga and Luka Modric have all starred along the way

When Real Madrid were 2-0 down on aggregate to Paris Saint-Germain and heading out of this season’s Champions League at the last-16 stage, one moment from the sidelines summed up this team’s resilience.

Moments after Kylian Mbappe seemed to put PSG into the last eight, the cameras cut to Real substitute Rodrygo, sat behind manager Carlo Ancelotti, who gestured his hands downwards to suggest a feeling of calm. It was as if he knew what was to come.

What followed in Real’s route to the final has been remarkable, yet consistent. Karim Benzema’s 15-minute hat-trick to down PSG, goals before and during extra time in a comeback win over Chelsea – and then that bizarre stoppage time recovery to knock out Manchester City in the semi-finals. Not even Hollywood writes scripts like these.

The pattern of those victories – particularly in the second legs at the Santiago Bernabeu – have also been similar. Real started the return fixtures poorly, conceded first, watched their opponents miss a host of chances to seal their respective progressions at Los Blancos’ expense, before Benzema led the comeback charge.

There has been a hint of fortune about Real reaching the final – especially considering how many opportunities their Champions League knockout opponents missed against them. Mbappe had two goals ruled out by VAR in the last-16, Christian Pulisic and Kai Havertz missed glaring chances for Chelsea in the quarter-finals and City’s Jack Grealish could have netted twice late on for Manchester City in the semi-final second leg.

Had Real come back from the depths of despair just the once, then many would point the finger towards luck being solely behind the La Liga side’s route to the final. But three times? All in the same manner? Against three teams who have reached the Champions League final in the past two years? It’s now a pattern – and it’s recognised by those both inside and outside of the club.

“The quality they have is no coincidence,” said City boss Pep Guardiola before his Champions League semi-final loss to Real. “They have a high level in everything. The quality of Madrid is not by chance or luck. People who say they’re lucky – nothing of the sort.”

Let them think what they want,” said Real midfielder Luka Modric when posed the same question about his side’s luck in the Champions League. “This is an unfair opinion and they only make us laugh, but everyone can say what they want.

We have quality and character as well as history. This club has won many big games and is the one that has won the most Champions League titles. We never surrender.”

So if it’s not luck – what is it then? What has Ancelotti done to keep Real in the Champions League, despite their best efforts to lose in every round?

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