More than a game, last night at Stamford Bridge was a baptism: that of a great team that has long been going to another that arrives with serious intentions to stay. He lacked the pertinent European outrage to this Real Madrid to become aware that his spine is bruised, that it is no longer a matter of rest, hot milk cloths and a four-hand massage in an inexpensive spa on the outskirts. Although it may sound cruel and advantageous – columnism almost always is – the European football elite demands more of you than beautiful ruins, a good handful of beautiful memories and a brass imitation of your coat of arms. “Those of Chelsea are walking through Pompeii,” wrote the writer Ángel del Riego on his Twitter account in the middle of the game. And who am I to contradict one of the authors of The white bible: Real Madrid’s sacred history? Nobody, which is almost the same as nothing.
I don’t remember the last time I saw Sergio Ramos play for ninety minutes. On the other hand, we have seen Modric and Kroos too many times, their coach incapable, for some reasons or others, of taking kilometers off their legs and scars on their faces. If the successes of recent years were explained on the basis of these three great names, the decline should not be dismissed by alluding to the poor performance of others: the hierarchy consists precisely in that, in being noticed. Too many things were guessed yesterday, but not in the way that the Madridistas should find desirable. One of them, perhaps the most prodigious of all, is that Zidane is willing to die at the same stake as his, determined to modify everything necessary so that the great generals of always fit into the lineup. And it would only be necessary for him to do the opposite, he who took several years to burn as a footballer!
It is not just a question of age, physical appearance or height. That’s all well and good for coffee shop discussions, even on some TV sets, but Zidane should be the first to acknowledge that an old soldier is still a safe asset when offered the right weapons. Those of Chelsea are modern, collective in nature, while those of his Madrid seem to have been stagnant at the time of the duel to the death under the sun. Mancherter City proved it to him last year and it has been endorsed by Tuchel’s team in these semifinals so that he has no doubt. Then there is the anecdotal, which can also be important, but it is still that, anecdotal.
Hazard laughed at the end of the match, congratulating his former teammates, and an ultra-orthodox and showy faction of Madrid was enraged, I don’t say for no reason. Modern football has lost liturgy, seriousness and a series of values that were previously taken for granted. But Madrid does not say goodbye to the European elite because Hazard is more or less discreet in the melasudism deployed after defeat, but because he lives confused by his own tautologies. “Madrid always comes back,” says one of them. And surely that is the case, but first you have to leave, if possible slamming the door: from that point of view, Real Madrid yesterday did exactly what was asked and needed.