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HomeChampions League"World soccer's greatest madman": What surprised Rüdiger - and what didn't

“World soccer’s greatest madman”: What surprised Rüdiger – and what didn’t

Matchwinner in the penalty shoot-out? Hardly anyone would have thought it possible that Real defender Antonio Rüdiger would be the man to talk about. Except maybe Toni Kroos

There are a few things about Antonio Rüdiger that no longer come as a surprise. One of them is undoubtedly that he regularly condemns one of the best strikers in the world to near-unemployment. If you were to rate the last three extensive duels in the top flight with Erling Haaland, the score would be 3:0 in Rüdiger’s favor. Or as Marca put it: “The biggest madman in world soccer once again gave a defensive lecture to the dry Haaland. “

How many pairs of eyes from Manchester to Madrid were wide open when Rüdiger stepped up to take the decisive penalty is something you’d like to know. And how many of them thought he would actually score, even more so.

Especially as Rüdiger proved shortly before the final whistle of the first half of extra time that he is not really that good at scoring goals. He missed a great chance from close range; it was the 31-year-old’s second not entirely fortunate scene after his attempted clearance when Kevin De Bruyne conceded the goal

There were ultimately two main reasons for Rüdiger’s penalty: Firstly, Real simply didn’t have many alternatives left. Fede Valverde and Eder Militao did not want to play for various reasons, which left the nominated shooters Luka Modric, Jude Bellingham, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho as alternatives to Rüdiger, along with joker Brahim Diaz, Eduardo Camavinga, Ferland Mendy and keeper Andriy Lunin.

At least attacker Brahim Diaz seemed to be the more obvious choice. But the fact that Rüdiger was allowed to shoot was apparently simply down to his skill, which Real assistant Davide Ancelotti also confirmed: “Jude is a shooter, Lucas is a great shooter, Nacho is a player with a lot of experience and personality – and Antonio is a player with balls,” said the 34-year-old, explaining the selection, which he and not his father Carlo had put together.

Real were not mistaken. Rüdiger strolled to the spot, meticulously positioned the leather, took a puff and, with the help of the inside of the post, tucked it into the bottom left-hand corner. Keeper Ederson had guessed the right corner, but had no chance

This was followed by something less surprising for Rüdiger. He went wild with joy. After a short sprint, he let himself fall onto the pitch and was soon out of sight. All the Real players had pounced on him, including Toni Kroos, who was considered rather reserved. “You can show emotion?” joked Rüdiger on Instagram after the game

Kroos, like everyone else, was simply relieved. The Real strategist was substituted for Modric in the 79th minute and had to watch the duels from the spot passively. “I also preferred to shoot to do something, because you suffer a lot from the outside at that moment,” he said in the mixed zone after the game. Incidentally, he had no doubt that his DFB colleague would score. Or did he? “Rüdiger shot very confidently. That’s the only one I had a lot of confidence in,” he said with a wink.

So at least someone wasn’t at all surprised by Rüdiger. No wonder, given the rate, which is one hundred percent. It was Rüdiger’s first ever competitive penalty

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