Sheriff Tiraspol: The sensation of the year

Zlatko Ilijevski
30 Sep 2021
Sheriff Tiraspol: The sensation of the year

The sensation of the year? Decade? One of the biggest surprises ever in the Champions League? What the Sheriff did on Tuesday night at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium is all that. And probably even more.

The representative of Moldova, a country from the periphery of football Europe, knocked down the Royal Club, according to many, the largest in the history of the game.

The debutant in the Champions League with 2-1 defeated the winner of a record 13 titles of champions of the Old Continent at his stadium. The famous Real Madrid fell before the onslaught of a club that has existed for "only" 25 years.

In 1996, the Sheriff was founded under the original name Tiras. The following year, they received the Sheriff, a corporation that owns a chain of gas stations, supermarkets, television, mobile network, as the general sponsor, and officially took that name.

Large investments brought immediate success. The Sheriff entered the first Moldovan league in 1998. The following season, they won the Cup, and from 2001, established complete domination in the domestic framework. They won 19 consecutive titles, nine cups, seven super cups and became an absolute synonym for football in the former Soviet republic positioned between Romania and Ukraine.

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At the European level, significant results were lacking until 2009, when the premier placement in the group stage of the Europa League was won. In the following years, the Sheriff was part of the second-highest quality continental competition three more times, but he never passed the group stage.

Meanwhile, attempts to enter the Champions League ended ingloriously. Usually already in the third round of qualifications. And then came the summer of 2021.

The double triumph against Armenian Alashkert sent Sheriff to the next round against the Serbian champion Red Star. A tailor-made opponent, it was believed among the red and white fans. A team that will not be difficult to pass.

However, a different picture was seen in the work. The Moldovans proved to be an insurmountable obstacle for Dejan Stanković's team. After 1-1 at Marakana, they celebrated at home with 1-0 and reached the playoffs.

Zagreb's Dinamo was waiting for them there, de facto a big favorite in the duel. Only on paper… Sheriff played brilliantly at home, won 3-0, and then made a historic success with 0: 0 in Zagreb and qualified for the Champions League.

In the group D with Real Madrid, Inter and Shakhtar indicated that the Sheriff will be a big outsider. That it will serve to correct the goal difference of much stronger rivals.

And this time it was only on paper. The team of the Ukrainian coach Yuri Vernydub already defeated Shakhtar with 2-0 in the debut match and showed that it is not by chance that they are part of the best.

An excellent overture was made for the visit to Real Madrid, but the chances for a new surprise were almost zero. Nobody even thought about it. Football, however, brought us once again something unimaginable. A night to remember was prepared.

The brave and organized game was shown by the Moldovans in the capital of Spain. They defended themselves as if their lives depended on it and waited for two situations to deal a blow to the favorite.

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The victory of the Moldovan Sheriff over the European record holder Real Madrid in front of his audience is by far the biggest surprise in the Champions League since, in 2010, Gracenote Sports introduced the ranking of the best clubs on the continent based on the "Euro Club" index.

Before the match, the chances that the club from Tiraspol will win all three points at the "Santiago Bernabéu" stadium were estimated at only 1.4 percent.

At the moment when they lost this match, Real was on the third place in the ranking list of the "Euro Club" index, behind Bayern and Manchester City, while the Sheriff was ranked 175th among the best teams in Europe.

Real Madrid returned to the "Bernabéu" this season, but the evil fate and the unrealistically bad series in the Champions League continued with the horror defeat by the champions of Moldova. That is why the duel with Shakhtar on November 3 will be an opportunity to stop that bad karma for the Spanish giant in this competition.

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