Real Madrid are inevitable: Narrative galore as Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham make Champions League history

It was Jadon Sancho v Jude Bellingham in the UEFA Champions League final.It was Jadon Sancho v Jude Bellingham in the UEFA Champions League final.
It was Jadon Sancho v Jude Bellingham in the UEFA Champions League final. | Getty / UGC
Real Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final on Saturday night, securing a 2-0 victory at Wembley.

It can’t be easy, leaving home for a new country as a teenager…Chasing a dream by following a path less trodden by your compatriots, with a multi-million pound price tag weighing you down and a new culture, language and style of football to learn.

You move to Borussia Dortmund from a city synonymous with English football, leaving your roots behind to back yourself to thrive in a new environment outside your comfort zone, but do so knowing that your new destination has heritage, has a track record for development.

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So you go there, you shine, you break into the England team, and all of a sudden you’re not just that 17-year-old anymore, you’re a beacon of hope for the future, a role model who took the road less travelled and became better for it. Then a big money move comes around, and you have a decision to make…

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That story, of course, is true of two players who graced the field at Wembley stadium on Saturday night, two players who have shown time and time again how supremely talented they are. But under the arch under the light of the London moon, only one of those former teammates could clinch the biggest prize in European club football.

Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham’s stories since leaving Dortmund – two years apart – couldn’t have gone much more differently. The former headed to Manchester United, a club that has endured their fair share of turmoil of late, while the latter chose Real Madrid, the most successful European team there’s ever been.

They walked out onto the field with the same goal, but probably different motivations. For Sancho it felt like his fight was for redemption – to prove that, despite a hard time at Old Trafford, he’s still got *it*. Bellingham, meanwhile, has a label to live up to. The best young talent in the world? Go on then, prove it.

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It was the first time that two English players have faced each other in either the UCL or European Cup while playing for non-English clubs, so they were already making history as soon as the XIs were named - to do it at Wembley was a nice little bonus. But frankly, the only thing that will have mattered to either is who came out on top.

In the end neither of them ended up being the main character in tonight’s story, but while Sancho will be left wondering if he could’ve done a bit more, for Bellingham it doesn’t really matter - at 20-years-old he’s already a Champions League winner, and that medal around the neck of himself and his teammates is all he’ll be bothered about.

But there were narratives everywhere at Wembley, it wasn’t just the English duo. For Toni Kroos it was his final game in a Real shirt, the last of his club career. For Marco Reus, a second half sub, it was his 429th and final game for die Schwarzgelben. It was young versus old as Edin Terzic tried to best the great Carlo Ancelotti, and in many ways David versus Goliath given Los Blancos’ 14 titles going into the game. It was a chance to upset the odds.

But it wasn’t to be, because in games like these Real Madrid are inevitable. Dortmund had their chances, lots of them. But with every one they didn’t take it felt like Ancelotti’s men were more likely to find the killer blow. It’s what they do, they’ve done it for years. Karim Adeyemi probably should’ve scored, Niclas Fullkrug too, but it was Dani Carvajal - a product of Real’s academy - who broke the deadlock in the 79th minute. Then it was Vinicius Junior who made it 2-0 shortly after. Inevitable.

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Bellingham embraced Ancelotti as the white half of Wembley celebrated. It’s not his first trophy, and it certainly won’t be his last. You can’t help but wonder if it’s not even the last one he might lift this summer, either.