Portugal Soccer Champions League Final

Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid deserved Champions League title

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Less than 24 hours after his winning the second UEFA Champions League title of his career, Cristiano Ronaldo has had a bit of time to reflect.

Ronaldo scored Real Madrid’s fourth and final goal in their stunning comeback win over crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday, as Real won their tenth European Cup. That extended their record as Europe’s elite club, even though their latest UCL crown took over twelve years to win.

MORE: Three things we learned from Real Madrid’s Champions League win

Atletico took an early lead in Lisbon and up until the 92nd minute it looked as though Real would once again falter in their quest for the infamous “La Decima”.

Ronaldo believes that Real deserved to win their first UCL trophy since 2002, even though they left it late.

“It was an unbelievable night, to win La Decima [the club’s 10th European title] here in Portugal with a beautiful crowd,” Ronaldo told Sky Sports News in the mixed zone after the game. “It’s something we’ve been wanting for many, many years and I’m really pleased and happy. I think the team deserved it because we played better than Atletico Madrid. I always believed, but we know that to score in 92 minutes is a lucky moment but when you force the game all the time and you believe, it’s always more easy. I think we deserved to score four goals – we created so many chances and we had the ball all the time.”

Cristiano has a point.

Real had 20 shots to Atleti’s 11, the champions also had 9 shots to four on target and enjoyed 63 percent of the possession. Los Blancos blew away their city rivals in the second half and in overtime and in the grand scheme of things thoroughly deserved to win the UCL title. Atletico almost kept them at bay but one slip up from set piece allowed Sergio Ramos to equalize and the rest, as they say, is history.

It was Real’s players, including Ronaldo, who celebrated on the streets of the Spanish capital on Saturday night after their dominant display in the UCL final was rewarded. Just.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

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I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.