Real Madrid achieved the impossible when they won 3 back to back Champions League titles. What are the reasons which led to their success?
May 31, 2020, 10:13 a.m.
“We couldn’t get the ball; we weren’t creating chances. It was almost as if we knew we weren’t going to score another two goals. Modric, Kroos, and Isco were just toying with us. They were almost mocking us, the way they were keeping the ball.” This is what Trent Alexander Arnold had to say about Real Madrid’s midfield after the 17/18 UCL final and trust me he is not the only victim of this quartet.
The seasoned duo of Modric and Kroos controlling the game with Casemiro providing the defensive cover and Isco dribbling and passing his way through the opposition defense was a sight to behold. The quartet created magic on the field and demoralized their opponents in such a way that it became impossible for them to compete.
The most admirable quality about this midfield was their versatility. They passed the ball in triangles in the midfield just as well as they transitioned at light speed from defense to attack, whatever the situation demanded, the midfield provided. They could play at any tempo. Whenever it looked like the opponent was on top of things, the midfield would retain possession to slow things down and break the opposition’s momentum. At the same time, they would find cracks in their adversary’s defense just as efficiently.
Even when either of the starting four wasn’t available, the likes of Kovacic, James Rodriguez, and Asensio replaced them and did just as good a job.
The midfield of the 3peat winning Real Madrid was so good that it wouldn’t be absurd to say that they are among the top 3 midfields ever assembled in the Champions League.
For more than a decade, Real Madrid followed the galactico transfer model, where they bought already established superstars from top clubs. While this was commercially a huge success, it didn’t give them the desired results on the pitch. Hence after a complete squad overhaul in 2009, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez decided to change this policy. Apart from a couple of exceptions here and there, he started focusing on buying young players with world class potential and promoting Real Madrid’s own academy players to the main squad.
This paid off in a way that no one predicted. The majority of the 3peat winning side consisted of players who were either bought by Madrid in their youth or belonged to the academy. From veterans like Ramos and Marcelo to relatively young players like Varane and Asensio were all bought by Real Madrid in their teens. Players from Real Madrid’s academy like Alvaro Morata, Lucas Vazquez, and Dani Carvajal also played a major role in the three campaigns.
In the third and final part of the series, we will conclude by focusing on the mentality which made the 3peat winning side what it was.