After coaching Real Madrid CF to victory in the UEFA Champions League, Vicente del Bosque managed a fair impression of Rudyard Kipling last night.
Triumph and disaster
His team had just met triumph rather than disaster - the two impostors the English poet speaks of in his work 'If' - yet according to Del Bosque, "a great season would still have been a great season" even had they lost at Hampden Park. And with good evidence. Madrid had already confirmed their reputation as the new masters of Europe: they went to Glasgow as the club with the most wins and goals in the competition's ten-year history. This term alone, they had amassed eleven victories and 33 goals from 16 games.
El Zid and the standard-bearers
Just as the European Champion Clubs' Cup was the realm of the brilliant whites of the 1950s, so the Santiago Bernabéu club have illuminated the first decade of the Champions League. The Spanish sports paper Marca got it right with its headline 'El Zid': truly Madrid are the standard-bearers.
Catch us if you can
AS Roma, FC Porto, FC Bayern München and FC Barcelona are just a few who could testify to that. Fernando Hierro is another. "Very few players can get their hands on three Champions Leagues," said the captain. "And I don't see Real Madrid stopping there."
Losers of Leverkusen
Leverkusen, too, have won their share of battles. "Who has cruised past Barcelona, [RC] Deportivo La Coruña, Juventus [FC], Arsenal [FC], Liverpool [FC] and Manchester [United FC]," inquired coach Klaus Toppmöller of his team's critics in the German press. "The losers of Leverkusen." Or 'Neverkusen' as the German league and cup runners-up have been christened. Unkind. The men from the BayArena have done much to brighten the landscape of the 2001/02 campaign.
But the German daily Express did them justice when they turned to another warrior epic for their headline: "Braveheart Bayer". All Toppmöller needs do now is build up his worn-out players for their next tilt at the big time.
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