18 June 2007
Match report by Cristina Monge
Photos by David R.Anchuelo & Ángel Martínez
Translation by Luis Orueta
An English thinker once wrote, “If you sow your seeds with faith and you care for them with perseverance, it's only a question of time until you reap a harvest of rewards.” How right was he as we saw the most vibrant La Liga of the last few years reach its final veredict. Real Madrid had no margin of error and as has been commonplace during this last spell of the League, everything worked out in the end. The perfect communion between fans, team, Club and history… the Together we can! campaign finally paid off. The sheer effort, the final spurt so immense, the will to fulfil yet another epic turnaround... Congratulations Campeones!
A screaming fan base gave this grand finale just the atmosphere it needed, making everyone's neck hair stand on end and securing the team an inspiration which proved just the ticket before kick-off. Over 80,000 Madridistas filled the Santiago Bernabéu stadium to capacity, turning it into a real pressure cooker. The excitement and cheerfulness of the little ones infected the adults. Any reason for grief was postponed until the following day, or maybe just a tad later, because this title deserved an unashamed bellyful of joy. It was an evening to wallow in the delight of having witnessed the resurgence of a badge, the pride behind a sentiment, the efficiency of a work plan, that blessed goddess called luck, the strength through unity and belief… We were all privileged witnesses of a championship that ended up making its way to Real Madrid's unparalleled trophy cabinet.
But the big party of all Madridismo meant winning against Mallorca. The team managed by Gregorio Manzano had already fulfilled this year's La Liga aspirations, but they were more than ready to showcase a full display of their professionalism and make it very hard on the Whites. It is appropriate to remind everyone now that this is the team that has grabbed most points from the Bernabéu since 2000. Arango gave the first serious warning shooting against the woodwork in the first minute, and in the 17th minute it was Varela who hit the homerun and made the worst omens come true. The Balearic side took the lead stunning the Merengues. A perfect triangulation passing play between Víctor, Varela, and Arango saw the latter beat Casillas on his right post with a precision ground shot. It was time to come back as the thrills and chills made yet another appearance in a Real Madrid match. The fans were resigned to suffering as they re-enacted the epic victory syndrome.
The first step towards rounding off a spectacular second half of the season, with only one defeat in 17 games, consisted in netting the equaliser. The bad news piled up as the League's Pichichi, with 25 goals, and top-scorer in away matches with 17 strikes, said goodbye prematurely. Without a doubt one of the best footballers of the 2006-07 Primera Liga, Ruud Van Nistelrooy was forced to leave the field of play broken and despondent with 31 minutes on the clock due to a severe muscular strain. That said, the biggest motivation of the night had the shape of a cup. The first half saw the Madridistas hit the dressing room with a meager footballing record and gripped by tension. Míchel Salgado, the big surprise of tonight's starting eleven, was the only one who seemed to couple guts and skill during this first period. Raúl, Roberto Carlos, and Robinho tried hard, but to no avail. Everything would have to wait until the second half.
The dream is realised
Guti once again instilled new vigour coming in for Emerson during the break. It was time to go get a goal, or rather two. The Madridistas were obliged to defeat Mallorca seeing as Barcelona were winning. The counters and the set pieces were the big danger plays of Capello's team. Mallorca took a step back as Real Madrid shoved forward harder and harder. José Antonio Reyes came in for David Beckham, who was seen off the field with a standing ovation in what has been his home for the last four years. Blessed substitution for it was the Andalusian who produced the goods, levelling the score 69 minutes into the clash.
Gonzalo Higuaín devised the master plan, a great play capped off with a touchline service that the young Sevillian poked home with his right foot. "Go get 'em!" shouted the Bernabéu in unison… And so the team did: they went to get 'em and the League like a true steamroller. The first tentative on target came by way of Robinho, but his shot was deflected by Moyá. It seemed like it was only a question of minutes until Madrid turned everything upside down. Said and done! One minute later, it would be one of this year's newcomers who would head into the back of the net. Diarra materialised a corner kick with only ten minutes to go. The Santiago Bernabéu went into a state of elation and rapture as they saw their team go ahead for the first time in the game and the matchday. Reyes proved instrumental in tonight's turnaround victory, scoring the third of the night just minutes later. In the happiest day of his life, the Andalusian curled the ball past the rival stopper for the final 3-1 in the 84th minute of the game.
And so, this tale had a happy ending, although there was a fair share of suffering and excitement… Once upon a time, in the 2006/07 season, when Real Madrid were once again the best team… and reconquered their leadership in the Spanish championship as a true homage to the Best Club of the XXth Century. We shall finish as we began this match summary, with some food for thought: “Don't let your enthusiasm wane, a virtue as valuable as it is necessary; work, have aspirations, and shoot always for the moon... there where only the CHAMPIONS tread.”
Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Míchel Salgado, Sergio Ramos, Cannavaro, Roberto Carlos; Beckham (Reyes, min. 67), Emerson (Guti, min.46), Diarra, Robinho; Raúl and Van Nistelrooy (Higuaín, min.30).
RCD Mallorca: Moyá; Héctor, Nunes (Ramis, min. 35), Ballesteros, Fernando Navarro; Jonás, Pereyra, Basinas, Varela (Trejo, min.89); Arango and Víctor (Maxi López, min. 68).
0-1. Min. 15. Varela pokes home from the keeper's box.
1-1. Min. 68. Reyes taps in an assist of Higuaín.
2-1. Min. 81. Diarra heads in a corner.
3-1. Min. 84. Reyes from outside the box.
Referee: Muñiz Fernández, Asturian Refereeing Association. Booked Víctor (16'), Jonás (26'), and Maxi (83') for Mallorca, and Roberto Carlos (59'), Guti (69'), and Reyes (72') for Real Madrid.
Highlights: Attendance: 80,000 spectators for a full house at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium. Ruud Van Nistelrooy was forced to leave the pitch after straining his hamstring.