How An Investment in Youth Returned Real Madrid to UCL Final

    • Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior, and Eduardo Camavinga — all 21 or younger — came to Madrid for transfer fees totaling $133.1M.
    • The trio have recorded eight goals and nine assists in 2021-22 UCL play.

Following one of the most stunning comebacks in Champions League history, Real Madrid have returned to the pinnacle of European soccer after a relatively short rebuild.

Down 5-3 on aggregate to Manchester City entering the 90th minute of the semi-final’s second leg, Rodrygo’s two goals in two minutes sent the match to extra time — where mainstay Karim Benzema’s penalty put Real through to a record-extending 17th final appearance in Europe’s most prestigious competition.

Rodrygo is part of a young, inexpensive core that has combined with several holdovers from the club’s recent glory years to shore up an attack that lost Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018.

  • Rodrygo, Vinicius Junior, and Eduardo Camavinga — all 21 or younger — came to Madrid for transfer fees totaling $133.1M. By comparison, a 19-year-old Joao Felix transferred to Atletico Madrid for $139.9M in 2019.
  • The trio have recorded eight goals and nine assists in 2021-22 UCL play.
  • Benzema, 34, leads the UCL in scoring this season (15), while fellow veterans Luka Modric and Toni Kroos have combined for two goals and four assists.

And while many remember only Zinedine Zidane at the helm when Real won four UCL titles from 2014 to 2018, including three straight, current manager Carlo Ancelotti presided over that first championship.

After handing Man City boss Pep Guardiola another shocking defeat, Ancelotti can set his sights on another of the world’s best managers — Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp. Real are +280 underdogs to Liverpool’s -110 on the moneyline.