CARDIFF – Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos said his side will leave their illustrious European history to one side in Saturday’s Champions League final against Juventus and try to imagine they are vying to win the trophy for the first time.
Real won the first five editions of the European Cup between 1956 and 1960 and are in their 15th final, bidding for a record-extending 12th crown and for the honour of being the only team to successfully defend the trophy in the Champions League era.
Juventus meanwhile are competing in their ninth final, having lost in six of their previous eight appearances, beating only Liverpool in 1985 and Ajax in 1996.
Ramos is gunning for his 18th winner’s medal for club and country and is far from alone in the Madrid dressing in room in having a lengthy honours list. Cristiano Ronaldo will be playing in his fifth Champions League final.
Ramos, however, said his side were still as hungry as ever to win Europe’s biggest prize.
“Tomorrow we have a date with history, with ourselves and we have to all forget about the things we have won and think about it like our first trophy,” Ramos told a news conference on Friday.
“In that sense we’re motivated and excited about being the first team to win two Champions Leagues in a row.”
Ramos scored a 93rd-minute equaliser in the 2014 final against Atletico Madrid, leading to a 4-1 extra-time win which ended a 12 year Champions League barren spell. That started a cycle of three finals in four years, as they also beat Atletico on penalties in the 2016 showpiece in Milan.
“After so many years without winning the Champions League you never know when the cycle might end and we’re proud of what we’ve done and are enjoying the moment,” Ramos said.
“What we’ve done is unbelievable – no-one could have predicted it. The numbers speak for themselves and we’re going to try to bring the cup home again.”
Juventus defender Dani Alves, perhaps inspired by his many years spent with Real’s arch rivals Barcelona, did look into the past as he dragged up the 1998 final between Real and Juventus which was decided for the Spaniards by a hotly-debated Predrag Mijatovic goal.
“This isn’t Alves v Real Madrid, this is Real Madrid v Juventus, and the last time they won with an offside goal,” said the Brazilian, who has never shied away from controversy.
Real defender Marcelo refused to be drawn into his Brazil team mate’s mind games, however.
“It’s a Champions League final and they are trying to get at us in various ways but we need to think about ourselves and remember what we came for and what we have to do,” Marcelo said.
“Their words wont bother us at all, we have come here to defend Real Madrid.” – Reuters