YOESTING: Ronaldo's flex seen round the world

Real's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring during the Champions League final soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in Lisbon, Portugal, Saturday, May 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Paulo Duarte)

Cristiano Ronaldo marked the end of the 2013-14 club soccer season with a flex for the ages, showing off a finely tuned core that would make any man or woman jealous.

The man who should've been flexing at the Champions League final, however, was Florentino Perez. The Real Madrid president made the big-money deals to bring in Ronaldo and Gareth Bale for a combined $250 million, the two largest transfer fees in soccer history.

The net result? La Decima.

After a dozen years of spending, Los Blancos were finally back on top, winning their long-coveted 10th European championship, most all time.

Of course, they had to wait 12 years and 120 excruciating minutes thanks to a pesky neighbor that had won the hearts of most of the world.

Atletico Madrid may go down as one of the greatest underdog stories in recent memory. No, they didn't win it all like the 1980 U.S. men's hockey team or bring unprecedented renown to a sport like the beloved Jamaican bobsled team.

But Atleti went toe-to-toe with the best (and richest) teams in the world and never backed down.

It's hard to not like Atletico. What they lack in the world's most expensive players, they more than make up for in traits everyone can get behind.

A club ubiquitously overshadowed by the richest, most successful club in the world located a few short miles away, Atletico Madrid won La Liga and nearly won the Champions League with hustle, hard work and desire.

Diego Simeone's players ran further and tackled harder; the players weren't paid as much but they wanted it more.

Atletico Madrid is a great example of a lower-budget team succeeding with smart scouting and appropriate tactics; they demanded opponents play up to their intensity level or succumb to the overwhelming waves of force.

They prevailed in La Liga with an unlikely championship by holding off Barcelona (the best team of the last six years) on the final day, albeit courtesy of an improper offsides ruling on Lionel Messi.

However, Atletico fell a couple minutes short against cross-town rival Real in the Champions League.

Real struggled to cope with the supremely physical Aletico until Sergio Ramos headed in an equalizer in the 93rd minute to force 30 minutes of free soccer.

After 110 minutes, Angel Di Maria broke the defensive dam, sprinting through a clearly tiring Atletico defense to shoot what would've been the game winner had it not been for a fantastic save from Thibaut Courtois. However, the Belgian goalie couldn't get enough on it to keep Bale from heading home a $100-million goal.

For Real Madrid, money well spent.

From there, Los Merengues scored twice more: substitute Marcelo found no one cared to defend him and waltzed to the top of the box to fire home in the 118th minute and Ronaldo earned and scored a penalty kick in the 120th.

Thus Ronaldo channeled his inner Brandi Chastain, ripping off his shirt and sending the ladies swooning.

Finally, Real Madrid had a team that could live up to the Galacticos of the early 2000s.

Ronaldo, Bale, Di Maria, Modric, Marcelo, Ramos, and Benzema may not yet resonate like Zidane, Figo, Raul, Beckham, Roberto Carlos, Cannavaro and (fat) Ronaldo, but the Champions League title is back in Madrid.

For many in Spain and across the world, that's all that matters.

United States fans just hope, with the World Cup a mere 16 days away, Cristiano Ronaldo doesn't have any reason to take his shirt off in Brazil.

 
 

Recent Stories You Might Have Missed