Champions Journalist fan reporter Louis Holas was at the Bernabéu last night – and says he was part of a team effort in the stands that almost matched Real’s efforts on the pitch
The streets around the Santiago Bernabéu were full of Madridistas more than three hours before kick-off, who congregated at the Plaza de los Sagrados Corazones. Fans jostled for position as they tried to get the clearest view of the team bus as it passed by. Among the multitude of songs sung by the Madrid fans, one had particular significance: “Sí se puede!” – “Yes, they can!”
The stadium filled quickly as anticipation rose. Most fans found a piece of coloured card on their seat for the pre-match mosaic, which displayed the Champions League trophy as the famous anthem played. Three flags then descended from the Fundo Sur stand: one was an image of talisman Karim Benzema, while the other two spelled out ‘Another Magic Night for the Kings of Europe’. Everyone was aware of the challenge that lay ahead, but this Madrid team had gained the trust of the fans, who knew their importance in helping their side reach the final.
Until Riyad Mahrez’s goal, the game was worlds apart from the chaotic first leg. Both teams were more compact and chances were scarce. As time ticked away, it began to feel like this would be one comeback too many. City had chances to extend their lead but the Madridistas refused to give up, cheering their team until the end. Then came those two Rodrygo goals; his second, the header, induced bedlam in the stands. Benzema’s penalty in extra time put us in the lead but there was still time for a miraculous save from Thibaut Courtois to complete the victory.
Wednesday’s game was my first in Madrid for more than three years – and it was well worth the wait. It was the best atmosphere I have experienced at the Bernabeú and I have never seen the crowd so united behind the players. It may not be the best Madrid team ever assembled, but the character and resilience displayed by this squad has brought club back to the pinnacle of European football. It was also a tremendous pleasure to share the experience with Valeria Paz, last season’s Champions Journalist for Real.
It was another magical night – and one that I will never, ever forget.