"A dream year, really".
Recently crowned Ballon d'Or victor Modric took one touch before thumping the ball into the bottom corner from outside the box to break the deadlock in the 14th minute after Al Ain had missed two early chances to take a shock lead. The local club from the United Arab Emirates upset South American champion River Plate in the semifinals on penalties. Marcos Llorente then produced a fine finish of his own on the hour mark for his first ever Real Madrid goal, firing in a low strike after the ball came to him following a Toni Kroos corner. For his part, Al Ain's player Amer Abdulrahman reiterated his playmates' unswerving will to introduce a handsome football tomorrow and raise the UAE flag high at the end of the match.
"We had opportunities in the first half, but we missed them and at this level we pay when Real Madrid are in front".
Team Wellington were no doubt wondering what might have been yesterday as Al Ain, the team they nearly beat 10 days ago, contested the Club World Cup final against Real Madrid.
But the rest of the match, Madrid lived up to their elite status and the talent gap was evident between the sides. Modric put Madrid in charge a minute later when he curled an unstoppable left-footed shot around a defender and diving goalie Khalid Eisa.
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Discussions on the arrangement have been going on between the two countries for months, well before the new leadership took over in Mexico on December 1.
Lucas Vazquez: Real Madrid are used to being written off
Santiago Solari had the entire squad of 25 players available to him ahead of the team's final training session. Thibaut Courtois has been looking good in the recent Real Madrid matches.
Solari, though, was quick to pile praise on Zidane, who surprisingly stood down in the wake of winning Madrid's third consecutive Champions League crown at the end of the 2017-18 season. Of Llorente, he added: "He has been working hard, even when no one was watching".
He deserves to not have such speculation around about his job security, and with a few new signings next summer, he could really make Madrid a team that can successfully challenge on all fronts again.
"The first thing is to congratulate Real Madrid because they deservedly won it, with good football", he said.
But the boo did not affect Sergio Ramos that much as he went on to lift the Club World Cup title for the third time in his career.