Benzema celebrates Real Madrid's winning goal against Manchester City. / REUTERS

Old dog, new tricks

Real Madrid are kings of Europe for a reason

Rob Palmer
ROB PALMER

It's still not dawning on people that we are witnessing one of the great club teams of all time! My son said to me: "You can't write about Real Madrid, Ancelotti, and Benzema again, Dad." I'm sorry, kid - you are going to have to suffer here.

In a week when Carlo Ancelotti claimed a league title in his fifth different major European league, he also guided a team to his fifth Champions League final as a coach. He outmanoeuvred Pep Guardiola. Benzema proved my weekly assertion that he's the best player on the planet correct. He extended his total of Champions League goals to 15 this season.

This Real Madrid team doesn't play poker. They just throw their cards on the table face up. Most clubs keep their team a secret until the last possible second of the UEFA deadline. Real announced their side on social media two hours before a game. "Here, beat that."

The side rarely changes anyway. It's always going to be the same ten. The 11th man is a choice between Fede Valverde, Marcos Alonso or Rodrygo, depending on form and circumstances. On this occasion, the more durable Valverde started and 21-year-old Rodrygo was introduced when the legs of veteran Toni Kroos began to tire.

The brilliant Brazilian weighed in with two last-ditch goals to trigger extra time. Complaints about away goals being decisive suddenly disappeared amongst the English media.

With the title sewn up, it's just a case of sparring with their Liga opposition until the final in Paris at the end of the month.

Liverpool remain the favourites. But they have to give sweat, blood and tears in their Premier League slog to edge City and there's also the FA Cup final.

Jurgen Klopp's team eventually beat Villarreal but the Yellow Submarine hit them with a couple of torpedoes. Sadly, the key players weren't 100% for Unai Emery. It's not a coincidence that Liverpool's goal came just after the hour mark when legs began to tire and any bumps, bruises or strains took a toll.

Already Liverpool fans are underestimating Ancelotti and his players. Just as those from Paris, West London and the Eastlands of Manchester did to their cost this season. Sorry, son: this isn't the final installment for Real, Ancelotti and Benzema.