A ‘winning culture’ may be one of the most over used terms in modern football but Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti proved on Saturday, at Liverpool’s expense, that there truly is meaning and value in the concept.
With the 1-0 win over Juergen Klopp’s side, Ancelotti became the first coach to claim the Champions League four times, with his second victory as Real boss coming after two triumphs with AC Milan.
As for the Spanish champions, this was the 14th time they have won Europe’s elite club competition — twice as many as the next most successful team Milan.
That pedigree, on the bench and on the field, has created a calm confidence that has seen them come through the toughest tests in this year’s competition.
To reach the final, Real came through a knockout stage which first saw them up against a Paris St Germain side with Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, they came back from 2-0 down on aggregate to progress thanks to a Karim Benzema hat-trick.
Defending champions Chelsea were next, beaten in extra time thanks to another Benzema goal before the Frenchman then got the decisive goal in the remarkable late comeback to beat Premier League champions Manchester City in the semi-final.
There was no such drama at the Stade de France on Saturday where, after surviving some early Liverpool dominance and suffering the setback of a disallowed Benzema goal, Real took a grip on the game after halftime, got their goal and then, with help from goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, defended their lead.
Ancelotti’s success has been founded on strong and trusting relationships with his senior players — from the days when Paolo Maldini organised his Milan defence to the current faith he shows in Benzema and Luka Modric to get Real over the line.