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JUST HEATING UP: Madrid may even fly higher after 12th European trophy

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Real Madrid made short work of the feared Juventus defense, as the Blancos defeated the Bianconeri 4-1 in the Champions League final to win their second straight European title and third in the last four seasons.

All the hype coming into the match was how Madrid were going to breach Juventus’ vaunted backline, a backline that conceded only once in the knockout games before the final, a backline that even the Lionel Messi-led Barcelona failed to breach over two legs.

But in the final, it took Madrid just a little over an hour to put three past Juve, and rubbed victorious salt on the wounds with another goal in the 90th minute as the Spanish capital giants won their 12th European title in club history.

What though is scarier than Real winning their 12th European title in history? They might bag the 13th next year.

YOUNG BOY RONALDO

Real Madrid, as described by club officials and their fans, are the Galacticos, a collection of star players with one mission: obliterate the hopes of small teams, and humiliate the big ones who try to outdo your achievements.

But despite the Galacticos being a star-studded roster, there are two keys to their Champions League success and it seems they are not going anywhere, especially after a successful season, meaning Real are entering next year as composed and as solid as this year.

First key piece, is the ageless wonder, Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 32-year-old talisman is past his prime but is still the heartbeat of Madrid. His two goals in the final enlivened his club, and his teammates lifted him on their shoulders to show him the respect he deserves following another fantastic and trophy-laden season.

“The numbers don’t lie,” said Ronaldo after his feat. And they sure don’t. Wingers usually flame out before they even reach 30, but the former Manchester United attacker has clocked in another goal-filled season. He scored 25 goals in 29 games in La Liga, and netted 12 in 13 Champions League matches.

Despite a very fulfilling season, Ronaldo is still hungry and will now turn his attention to Portugal’s World Cup qualifying bid. “It is a long season but I am motivated,” stated Ronaldo. “My age is just a number, I feel like a young boy.”

So yeah, good luck next year, Juve!

ZIDANE IS STAYING

Most think winning is easy, especially if you have 11 of the best players in the world. But it is not. Just ask those who came before Zidane. Though it is ironic to ask Zidane, since for him, it was easy. In fact, it was almost a match made in heaven.

Zidane is young enough to easily understand how this generation of players think, feel and want to be treated, and he has done enough in the field to earn the players’ respect. He wasn’t thrown to the fire, having spent years as assistant and youth team boss before taking over in 2016. Every Madrid boss is given parts to a Ferrari, and Zidane is one of the few who has given the training, the manual and had driven one in his youth.

He was rumored to be on the move during the middle of the season, but with what they’ve achieved, it is almost certain he’ll stay on and pile up on those trophies. Two Champions League trophies, one La Liga title, and one Club World Cup championship, he will find it hard to replicate that kind of success any club in the world.

“We know it is going to be even more difficult to win,” said Zidane, acknowledging his challenges in the future. “But we are now going to work very, very hard to win once again.”

FORTUNE

It is almost unfair, that a giant team like Real is somehow lucky too.

Let’s check who will they face in the coming season:

La Liga rivals Barcelona are entering a transition phase from the exiting Luis Enrique to incoming Ernesto Valverde, meaning there will be a cloud of uncertainty and a time of adjustment over at Camp Nou.

Capital rivals Atletico Madrid are banned from signing anyone in this transfer window, meaning they cannot use money to mount a challenge to Real’s growing dominance.

Juve might be in an identity crisis, since they’ve lost two Champions League finals in three seasons and their world class defense has been decimated by Ronaldo and Real.

Bayern Munich have been kind of stagnant in the last few years, while English clubs still need to go through the eye of the needle to become competitive in Europe. Chelsea might lose midfielder Eden Hazard to Real (where else), Pep Guardiola is still searching for traction with Manchester City, Jurgen Klopp is struggling with inconsistency in Liverpool, Jose Mourinho is hovering above mediocrity in Manchester United, and Arsene Wenger is, uhm, still Arsenal boss and is reportedly targeting another fourth-place finish next year, oops, the Premier League title.

While Real are enjoying consistent success and are still backed by the title-hungry Florentino Perez, their rivals are either cuffed by the rules, by managerial changes, or by, uhm, Wenger.

Winning three straight Champions League titles might sound impossible, but the stars seem to align for Real. And for a team that just won two? Is it?

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