With opposite trajectories in the last decade, Real and Liverpool decide the Champions

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With opposite trajectories in the last decade, Real and Liverpool decide the Champions

On 9 May 2010, Liverpool drew 0-0 with already relegated Hull in the Premier League. The atmosphere in the crowd was warlike.

Two days earlier, the club’s accounts for that season had been published. The loss was £54.9 million (R$332.8 million, corrected value), including interest payments of £40.1 million (R$243.1 million, updated). The total debt was 472.5 million pounds (R$ 2.86 billion, at the current exchange rate).

The team had not won the English title since 1990. At the beginning of the 2010/11 Premier League, they were in the relegation zone after a defeat against Blackpool.

The owners were Americans Tom Hicks and George Gillett. Hicks was half of Hicks-Muse, the company that took over football from Corinthians at the end of the last century. A partnership that ended badly.

It was not difficult, at the time, to believe that Real Madrid had an ideal management model. Without an owner, it belonged to the partners and piled up trophies. He was already the greatest champion in the history of the Champions League. He would win the Spanish title again in 2012.

A decade after that, the two teams face each other this Saturday (28), in Paris, for the Champions League decision. Everything is very different off the field. The decision will be broadcast at 4 pm on SBT, TNT and HBO Max.

Liverpool changed hands, found a manager who changed the club’s history and built one of the greatest teams in British football history.

Involved in the renovation of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium, Real Madrid accumulates a debt of 789 million pounds (R$ 4.8 billion corrected), became one of the architects of the failed Superliga project (in which Liverpool was also involved from the first minute) and was not successful in its biggest market plan in recent years: the signing of Frenchman Kylian Mbappé. The striker decided to renew with Paris Saint-Germain.

With the ball rolling, Real Madrid won the national league with ease and reached the European final with historic comebacks, such as the one they played in the round of 16, against PSG, and in the semifinals, against Manchester City – a game in which they were almost eliminated until the second half stoppage time and managed to qualify.

A much thornier path than that of Liverpool, which passed through Internazionale, Benfica and Villarreal. There were some scares, but no comparisons with those of the Spaniards.

If champion, the English team will reach the seventh title and will tie with Milan as the second greatest continental champion. The absolute first place belongs to Real Madrid, winner 13 times.

The recent trajectory of the two rivals shows the volatility of football, whether in the results or off the field.

Liverpool experienced dramatic moments just over a decade ago. In 2011, the Royal Bank of Scotland was given five months for a new buyer to appear or the club would go bankrupt. There was no way to refinance the 237 million pounds (R$ 1.47 billion in current money) loaned by the financial institution.

Three days before the deadline and in the midst of a legal fight between Hicks-Gillett and directors appointed by the bank, the Court decided that the offer of a consortium led by American John W. Henry, owner of the Boston Red Sox, a of the most traditional teams in MLB (Major League Baseball), the professional baseball league in the United States.

Immediately, 200 million pounds (R$1.2 billion currently) of the debt was paid, and Liverpool were saved.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid was already building the team that would conquer Europe again. He won the Champions League in 2014. He would do it again in 2016, 2017 and 2018. This last year, against Liverpool. Although the “Galactics” policy, when the club signed one superstar per season (Figo, Zidane, Ronaldo Fenômeno, Beckham) was in the past, the club was still the preferred destination for players who wanted glamour, money and titles.

“You can destroy other teams in a short period of time, but it takes a long time to build a strong foundation. We are very patient but aggressive,” said Henry, after taking charge of Liverpool, in one of his rare public statements.

Year after year, the association started the walk back to the top. It set up a hiring philosophy, improved the talent acquisition structure and started investing in acquisitions within a medium and long-term vision.

The English title slipped dramatically in 2014, when one of the greatest idols in the team’s history, Steven Gerrard, slipped past Demba Ba in a decisive game against Chelsea. The fall of Brendan Rodgers the following year opened the door for the arrival of the coach who would change everything. German Jürgen Klopp had the personality, talent and football knowledge that was lacking.

Liverpool lost the European final to Real Madrid in 2018 but won it the following year. He was also world champion against Flamengo. The dreamed Premier League trophy came in 2020.

While all this was happening, Real Madrid, in addition to the Champions League, won three more Spanish leagues, four editions of the World Cup and a Copa del Rey to maintain the rhythm of one of the most winning teams on the planet, even if in the financial part things didn’t do very well.

This Saturday’s final pits two clubs with different visions, opposing administrations and significant structural changes in recent years. Regardless of the result on the scoreboard, Real Madrid’s goal is to complete the renovation that should transform the Bernabéu into the most modern stadium in Europe, start earning money from it and put the accounts in order. Perhaps, even, with the revival of the Superliga. Liverpool’s goal is to continue what they’ve already done.

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