Real Madrid never won the FIFA Club World Cup before 2014. Sergio Ramos seemingly always scores in big games. It doesn’t take a genius to guess which one of those facts of life changed Saturday.
Real Madrid defeated San Lorenzo 2-0 at Le Grand Stade de Marrakech in Morocco to win the 2014 Club World Cup title and claim the tag of “World Champion.” San Lorenzo tried to frustrate Real Madrid and turn the game into a pitched-battle. It didn’t work, as Real Madrid mostly kept its cool, dominated possession and territory and hit pay-dirt at the right times. Real Madrid out-classed San Lorenzo for 90 minutes to earn the deserved victory.
Ramos scored the game-winner on a header late in the first half, and Gareth Bale doubled Real Madrid’s lead early in the second. Ramos and Bale’s goals drained San Lorenzo’s tiring players of confidence and fighting spirit, allowing Real Madrid to extend its reign beyond Europe’s borders into a global scale.
Real Madrid now boasts a club-record 22-game winning streak (two games shy of the world record), a master head coach in Carlo Ancelotti and a star-studded squad of players, who still are hungry for success after winning four major trophies in 2014.
While Cristiano Ronaldo leads Real Madrid’s unstoppable attack, he didn’t score in either of Real Madrid’s two Club World Cup wins. Ronaldo’s teammates clearly were trying to set him up in the final stages of Saturday’s game, but it wasn’t meant to be. The Portuguese superstar now hasn’t scored in two games, which ties his longest barren run of 2014-15. FIFA awarded Ronaldo the Silver Ball Award for being the second-best player at the Club World Cup.
However, Ramos struck gold.
Ramos, Real Madrid’s 28-year-old, all-conquering center back, scored at a pivotal moment. The game was going according to San Lorenzo’s plan when Ramos climbed over defender Mario Yepes and headed in Toni Kroos’ corner kick. There was no turning back from there.
Ramos also scored the opener in Tuesday’s 4-0 semifinal win over Cruz Azul. Ramos’ goals, combined with Real Madrid’s two shutouts, made him a wise choice for the Golden Ball Award, which he proudly hoisted in the postgame ceremony.
Ramos has become a feared goal scorer (from dead-ball situations).
The bigger the game, the more likely it is that Ramos will rise to the occasion. Ramos scored twice in the second leg of Real Madrid’s win over Bayern Munich in the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League semifinal. Ramos dramatically scored the game-tying goal late in Real Madrid’s win over Atletico Madrid in the final. Ramos was heroic, but this time it was in a global tournament in Morocco rather than in Europe’s familiar confines.
Ramos now has won every major prize available to him in his career, as has goalkeeper and captain Iker Casillas.
Ancelotti has enjoyed unprecedented success recently.
Kroos was used to winning when he played for Bayern Munich. The German midfield maestro shows no sign of stopping now that he plays in Spain.
We’ll find out if anyone can stop Real Madrid in 2015. The Spanish giant will enjoy its two-week winter break before resuming its pursuit of further glory and a world record on Jan. 4 when it takes on Valencia in La Liga (Spain’s first division). Chances are Ronaldo will score. If he doesn’t, don’t be surprised if Ramos does the honors.
Thumbnail photo via Christophe Ena/The Associated Press