Real Madrid are aiming for the title again in the Champions League. However, the team is not the favorite against Liverpool. But what does that mean. The club has created several sensations with their heroic football. Right in the middle: David Alaba, who did everything right.
David Alaba has achieved what was considered impossible at Real Madrid. David Alaba made sure that no royal tears were shed after Sergio Ramos. Sergio Ramos, this gladiator, this legend who won the Champions League four times with the glorious capital club. The 29-year-old is still a long way from that. miles away. The Austrian is fighting with the Madrilenians against Liverpool in the evening in Paris (9 p.m. / ZDF, DAZN and in the live ticker on ntv.de) for the first pot with a new employer. Real is not the favourite. But when were they in the past duels in the premier class?
The fact that Los Blancos are playing for the most important trophy in club football in the place where their legend Ramos is fighting to continue his career is also such a strange punch line for this strangely great team from Madrid. Because actually she refuses with her old grandees every football innovation. Neither the position game is legendary, nor the pressing. Also otherwise good rather nothing for future seminars. The success is based (1.) on the humanity of coach Carlo Ancelotti, who lets his players do what they feel most comfortable with on the pitch. And it is based (2.) on a remarkable and probably unique heroic football. Right in the middle: David Alaba, who did everything right.
It wasn't clear when he left FC Bayern, the club where he grew up, after twelve years last summer. His change from the record champions, who were so used to success, to the tumbling giants of the La Liga was definitely associated with the risk of falling a few meters in football. But now that the season has only one highlight with the final, the view of the decision changes. While the Munich team is reeling from a rather mixed and emotionally turbulent season with wild personnel debates, Real is surfing on a new wave of success with all the coziness of "Coach Carlo". How long does this ride last? Not clear. The team has been considered overaged for years and urgently in need of renovation.
Only the truth refuses to prove this thesis of the experts. And so this real successfully walks on the abyss in a surreal way, but without crashing. Maybe soon with the next handle pot on your shoulders. Also because there is Alaba. In addition to the incredible Karim Benezma, he is probably the most important pillar in this team full of old masters like Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro as well as a few exciting talents around the Brazilians Vini junior and Rodrygo and the French strategist Eduardo Camavinga. The new defense chief is playing an outstanding season. Not only because of his calmness on the ball and because of his clever structure, he helps the team enormously. With his charisma, his mia-san-mia self-confidence and his communication skills, he also ensured that there was no leadership vacuum after Ramos. "He's arrived on and off the field - as if he's been there for a long time," says Toni Kroos about Alaba, whom he knows as a very young bloke from the times we shared on Säbener Straße.
The stories of Ramos and Alaba at their heart clubs are surprisingly similar. The Real Madrid legend, who made 671 competitive appearances and scored a sensational 101 goals, made his tearful departure clear that the reasons lay at the highest level of the club. With remarkable frankness, he pressed charges against President Florentino Perez and manager Jose Angel Sanchez on his official departure. Ramos really would have liked to stay. But the club didn't want to (anymore). This was preceded by very tough negotiations. With apparently long incompatible positions. Ramos finally gave in, but it was already too late (without him knowing it), he had to go - and he went to Paris St. Germain.
The royals, on the other hand, relied on Alaba. He was also a club icon in Munich. He excelled as a left-back and as a defender. But he had gambled. Allegations of greed were raised by Uli Hoeneß, among others. At the time, the Austrian, represented by his piranha consultant Pini Zahavi, wanted to move up into the most exclusive salary bracket with the record champions, but he was denied access. They only know in Munich whether that was the right decision from an economic point of view. In terms of sport, on the other hand, it was a misjudgment. The defense was FC Bayern's Achilles' heel this season. Although the club was German champions, for the tenth time in a row, they failed in the cup (second round, 0:5 against Borussia Mönchengladbach) and the premier class (quarter-finals against FC Villarreal) but crashed and too early. Real, on the other hand, made an amazing journey through Europe. With a new leader. With wild gameplay.
"If you only look at their last few minutes, Real are unbeatable. Their comebacks were impressive," says Liverpool coach Jürgen Klopp about the rocky path of the 13-time title holder. His hope: "If they played like that for 90 minutes, it would be complicated. But fortunately there are 88 other minutes."
When Alaba switched to Los Blancos in the summer when his tears had dried, he quickly knew what to expect. Unlike at Bayern, he was not allowed to slowly grow into his new role. Alaba had to deliver immediately, Alaba had to be the boss immediately, Alaba had to replace Ramos. President Perez said at the official presentation of the Austrian: "You come from FC Bayern, one of the biggest clubs in the world, a friendly club with whom you have won 28 titles. We are very happy to be able to count on you. Today begins for you a great new challenge to decorate the history of our club with more titles." More pressure is hardly possible. Alaba took it easy - and delivered.
Alaba is a completely different type than its predecessor. Clear in the commands, elegant in a duel. With his inner serenity, he manages to keep control or regain it even in the wildest phases. Ramos, on the other hand, was the type to set an example. With his robust, sometimes very boorish nature. In 2018, for example, he helped decide the final against Liverpool with two physical attacks. After an unfair duel, striker Mo Salah injured his shoulder so badly that he was unable to continue playing. Ramos later crashed into goalkeeper Loris Karius so hard that he made two fatal mistakes in a row. As it later emerged, the German finished the final in Kyiv with a concussion.
Ramos made history. Whether you like him or not. He is one of the most legendary central defenders of this time. In Paris, he announced a few weeks ago that he would like to continue after a year in which 33 games were missed due to injury. In general, he would like to play at the top level for another four or five years. It doesn't matter for Alaba, his time in Madrid is now. And he believes his royals will win the pot again against Liverpool. As in Kyiv. He himself would lift it for the third time. What speaks for Real against Jürgen Klopp's pressing sensation? Actually nothing. And yet so much. Heroes' football is unpredictable, and there is no limit to trust in the club's strength.
"We are Real Madrid. We're going to Paris with this self-confidence, just to win there," Alaba told the "kicker". In addition to the skills of individual players, this also led the team to success in the previous rounds against Paris St. Germain, defending champions FC Chelsea and Manchester City. The quality in the team is very, very high, you have outstanding individual players who can decide games at any time. "In addition, there is a very special spirit and competitive character, which we showed in the knockout games. We are a team that can always fight back, that never gives up."