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Five Aside: The numbers behind Real's win

Champions League May 24, 2014
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Five Aside: An all-Madrid final

Champions League May 23, 2014
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May 27, 2014

What's next for UCL finalists -- Real and Atletico

Because this was a Champions League final between two sides from the same city, there will generations of kids who'll be told the tale of Real Madrid versus Atletico by their fathers. Some in overwhelming sadness, others with a discernible trace of lasting joy, and the youngster, having heard the tale of the match will turn and ask: "and what happened next Dad?"

What indeed.

Real Madrid

If Carlo Ancelotti and Paul Clement have achieved this from a season filled with so many expectations, imagine what they can do with extra planning, support, consistency and continuity? They started the season with world record transfer fee player arriving unfit and with their midfield general out injured until late Autumn and had to survive strong rumours that they might well be sacked if the Champions League wasn't won.

Real Madrid don't really have a good history on this. Three Champions League trophies ago, they sacked Jupp Heynckes after winning this tournament. In 2000 it was, admittedly, Presidential elections which ejected the leader, Lorenzo Sanz, who'd just brought the club two Champions' Cups within two years. Then, 12 months after Vicente Del Bosque won La Novena at Hampden, he, too, was dismissed.

Right now it would appear that the only one who may jump ship is Zinedine Zidane -- IF he feels the call of French football and wants to lead a club on his own.

In front of Los Blancos lies a summer during which almost all their players will be tested in the heat, humidity and pressure of Brazil during the World Cup.

For those eliminated early there will be a relatively short summer break. For those who go to the final stages the break will be short too, but on return the season will be very close to beginning.

Other top clubs will have to cope with this, but not quite to the same extent as Madrid -- and not having played through to May 24 then partied.

The key here is planning. Working with fitness and rehab staff about how to 'grade' the training of the group to bring disparate fitness levels together.

Champions League coverage: -Brewin: Bale delivers -Train: Decima relief -Marcotti: Emotional final -Brewin: Atleti misses chance

Also, how to ensure that the playing group psychology is good and strong. It's proven that success can be an elixir which leaves some craving further triumph, and a rust to the motivation and concentration of others.

All these elements are best catered for by a coaching team which knows it will have continuity, total control and the confidence of those who employ them.

If Carlo Ancelotti (and this would both surprise and disappoint me) feels that one glorious season with Madrid is sufficient and it's best to leave on a high -- then Los Blancos have got some very serious and difficult issues to deal with. I hope for their sake this isn't so.

Then there is the transfer market. At Real, the coach only has a small voice. He'll be required to specify who he can do without, which players he'll accept that the club needs to 'cash in' so that further investment can be made (like Mesut Ozil last summer) and he'll be required to specify which positions he feels it's vital are reinforced with greater quality.

But who, specifically, the club buys, how much they are willing to spend and how long the deal takes to get done are wholly outside his control (like Gareth Bale).

What Ancelotti might (stress might) now have is a slightly louder voice. He can use the: 'Would you like to retain this trophy' argument. If he chooses to.

Prior to that, there's now an array of silverware potentially in front of him and his club.

The Spanish Supercup will be yet another Madrid derbi -- the seventh in fifteen months. Home and away within the space of a few days. It'll be an epic way to begin the season.

The European Supercup will be against Sevilla. One of the sides whose 'let's tear into them' attitude at the tail end of the season cost Madrid the title thanks to a 2-1 Carlos Bacca and Ivan Rakitic inspired win.

Cardiff will host the match in which the Real Madrid players I know will be thirsting for 'revenge'. They may not announce it that way -- but that will be the mood.

And while the season is still less than half-formed Madrid will play the FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco, entering the competition as firm favourites.

With the Copa and Champions League, Ancelotti has the chance to make 2014 a five trophy year.

Reinforcement-wise the decision not to trust Illarramendi in the absence of Xabi Alonso simply shows that, in the absence of the elder Spaniard, Madrid haven't solved that conundrum yet. That's a priority.

It's an open secret that while Madrid are not pushing Karim Benzema out the door they are willing to 'listen to offers' and they lust after Luis Suarez.

Bale, Suarez, Ronaldo as a front line -- you'd buy a ticket to watch, wouldn't you?

How they prise him away from Liverpool is up to them -- but his interest in the deal is something which will not have been reduced by Saturday night's events.

All in all, with the after-effects of losing like this and the likely departure of Courtois and Costa to be assimilated by Atletico and Barcelona in re-construction, these are potentially very rosy times for Los Blancos.

But the foundation stone is continuity. Removing any midterm doubts over Ancelotti's future, handing him a greater degree of power in terms of how the club develops and cashing in on the terrific work Ancelotti and Clement have done this year.

Atletico Madrid

I admire Diego Simeone in many ways and he's been a boon to Spanish football.

I'm pleased that in the first column of this season, back in mid August, I suggested that they were potential title winners. More, the manner in which Atletico have achieved their glory this season has put a welcome emphasis on intensity of work and the power of team spirit. Man management too.

So I hope those who feel 'protective' of him take all that into account while I offer some criticism.

Throughout other, long, demanding seasons I've often watched managers begin to join their players in making errors which stem from tiredness, pressure ... or even inexperience.

Often, in the last few weeks, I've expressed surprise and admiration to some of the ex-pros and former managers with whom I work that this immensely demanding and intense season seemed to be taking absolutely no toll on Simeone.

His capacity to inspire his players, regenerating not only their commitment but their confidence and energy, was immense.

He would deal brilliantly with the media, never snapping, never losing control, constantly sending out clever messages which were aimed at his own players to reinforce the work he was doing on the training ground.

Strategically he was good too. Managing his slightly thinning resources while still steering Atletico to a stream of one goal victories, picking teams to get the right result from massive ties with Athletic Club, Chelsea and Barcelona - Simeone seemed immune to tiredness, pressure or the sheer burden of work.

Then came his undoing. How on earth he thought that any technique on earth, no matter what it was, could leave Costa, who could barely walk last Saturday night, fit to play, sprint, turn and jump in the Champions League final seven days later (with 48 hours of rampant celebration in between to further cut recovery time) is beyond me.

As an ex player he must have known. And then there was the risk factor.

In three of the last five games between Madrid and Atletico the difference has been marginal. Extra time and 2-1 in the Copa final, a 1-0 win at the Bernabeu and then a torrid 2-2 to finish the Liga fixtures.

There was always a shrewd bet available that this was an extra time match in Lisbon.

You simply cannot risk a playing going off early in the first half and cut your available substitutes to two. More, Costa had been risked in similar circumstances (but with greater recovery time) and had already pulled up lame in the Champions League quarter final at Barcelona.

This was not, under any circumstances, a risk worth taking. Diego Costa impact sub with 15 minutes left? Maybe. Costa from the start -- simple foolhardiness.

As it was, Atletico ended up tired, tied at 1-1 and with Juanfran patently hobbling. No subs left though.

So, Simeone is simply human. He went for a big gamble and it didn't pay off.

Now, despite the garlands thrown his way in recent days, despite Atletico being Spanish champions the path ahead looks a good deal more rocky.

It's reasonable to imagine that he's now going to lose both Costa and Courtois -- with all due respect to Gabi, Koke and Diego Godin, the two most important players in the team.

Atletico will also suffer a queue of bids to unsettle other key guys like Miranda, Filipe Luis and Koke.

Los Rojiblancos have shown admirable team planning over the last few years. Truly admirable. They see opportunities earlier than others, they generally sign for a lower price than now seems feasible and they consistently have a player waiting to take over when they lose a star. Terrific work.

Now, though, this summer would be their biggest test yet if they lose a rampant scorer and a keeper who, week in week out, wins them games they've otherwise have lost or drawn.

How do you replace them like for like?

And while Simeone's work was rewarded with the absolute rarity of being applauded into the press conference post the Lisbon final his Costa decision has, without question, tarnished his invincibility.

Not with the media or the fans. That's not so important. His players were in that nirvana state where they utterly believed that what Simeone told them would happen ... WOULD happen.

I've spoken to many players who are totally enthralled by their manager -- they literally believe he's invincible. Ferguson had it, Guardiola had it, Mourinho has had it, although decreasingly.

The power of that weapon is utterly immense. I guarantee that no matter how many of Simeone's players wanted to believe that Simeone was right to risk Costa, almost all of them will have disbelieved that the striker's Lazarus impersonation was viable.

This is a blip, not a catastrophe. But combine all of what happened in Lisbon with what may well take place in the next few weeks of the transfer market and Atletico fans may be about to feel that the glory of being Spain's champions has led too quickly to a time of stress and anxiety.

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