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From Macdara Ferris in Cardiff
While Juventus came to Cardiff after winning six consecutive Scudetti, it was Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid team that earned their own six in a row. Real’s 4-1 win over Juve means they have triumphed in each of their last six Champions League final appearances. 15 years after scoring the winner for Real in Glasgow, Zidane as coach came to Cardiff and led the Spanish champions to their third European Cup victory in the last four years.
A smiling Zidane speaking to the press afterwards unsurprisingly described himself as “extremely happy” as he became the first manager to coach a team to back-to-back Champions League titles – and the first Real Madrid manager to do the European and domestic double in 59 years.
“It's been a spectacular year,” said Zidane. “You couldn't dream of anything better. We won the league on the very last day.”
His team at certain stages of the first half in Wales looked like they might be overrun by La Vecchia Signora but after the teams were level at the break, Zidane’s side put in an incredible second half performance to pick up the trophy – Real’s 12th European Cup.
“Juventus came out very strongly and had lots of the ball,” said the 44-year-old Frenchman about the opening period. “In the second half, we were superior. At half-time I told the players to carry on doing what they were, put more energy into their pressing and passing, and we were spectacular in that second half. Our passing and movement was fantastic. It's not easy to score four goals against Juventus."
Indeed the Italian side had only conceded three goals in their 12 European games this season en-route to the final. However Massimiliano Allegri’s men couldn’t shut out Real like they had done to the opposition in nine of their Champions League games this season. Allegri was full of praise for his team on their season, but not on their second half display, when he spoke after the game.
“Firstly, let me congratulate my boys for what they've done this season,” said Allegri. “It's been an extraordinary season. We've won the league, cup and reached the Champions League final so I have to thank them.
“In the first half we played beautifully,” said the 49-year-old Italian. He saw Mario Mandzukic score as good a goal to grace a final since probably his opposite number’s volley for Juve in the final in Scotland back in 2002.
“In the second half, Real Madrid pressed the accelerator and we weren't able to respond. Football can be a nightmare. The only criticism I could make is that after the second goal we should have stayed in the game mentally to make sure we still had chances.
“We played a beautiful first half, all the players, but after conceding the second goal we should have stayed in the game. We actually created a couple of chances when we'd gone 2-1 down, but we weren't able to take them.”
This was their second Champions League final defeat in the last three seasons and with his aging side Allegri was asked was there to be a changing of the guard in Turin. “I don't think Juventus have reached the end of a cycle at all. Buffon and Barzagli will still be with us next year and they still have a lot to give us.
“Clearly we need to improve the team to achieve a higher level of technical skill, but after the holidays we'll go back to work with a new stimulus.
“Football gives you the chance to go again next year,” said Allegri seeking inspiration from something that Real Madrid seem to be able to do in Europe season-on-season.
We also heard from man of the match, Cristiano Ronaldo: The numbers don't lie.