MADRID • The deep-seated perception that the number 13 represents bad luck may very well be dispelled come the Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26.
For Real Madrid, the pursuit of their 13th European Cup has been fortuitous to say the least after the defending champions scrapped their way into a third consecutive Champions League final on Tuesday following a 2-2 semi-final second-leg draw with Bayern Munich.
In an almost carbon copy of the second leg against Juventus in the quarter-finals, Real were left hanging on at the Santiago Bernabeu in added time.
And were if not for a "blackout" moment by goalkeeper Sven Ulreich, Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes would now be preparing for a swansong final .
Real coach Zidane, however, insisted the "suffering" his team have been put through in their elimination of Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and now Bayern, should not be underestimated.
"In football, you have to suffer," the Frenchman said in a post-match interview.
"You cannot be in the final without suffering, it's even better, more beautiful when you win like that.
Zinedine Zidane has won every two-legged Champions League knockout tie as Real Madrid manager.
Saves Keylor Navas made against Bayern Munich, his highest tally in a Champions League knockout game.
James Rodriguez is the seventh player in Champions League history to score for and against Real - after David Beckham, Alvaro Morata, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Fernando Morientes, Arjen Robben and Ivan Zamorano.
"Madrid never give up. It is the same in adversity, we believe in what we do and we get things done by believing in ourselves and fighting."
For long periods in the second half, Heynckes' men were dominant. They had 22 shots at goal to Real's nine. The German champions reduced Cristiano Ronaldo to 13 completed passes. They had struck first through Joshua Kimmich and fought back via James Rodriguez in the second half.
But Bayern could not muster the third goal to overcome Karim Benzema's double in between - the first a header, and the second a simple finish following a howler by Ulreich.
The 29-year-old, who has stood in as the Bavarians' first-choice custodian this term due to Manuel Neuer's injury, somehow missed a backpass from Corentin Tolisso, leaving Benzema to tap into an empty net.
Ulreich yesterday apologised for the blunder, writing on his Instagram page: "Words can not describe how disappointed I am about exiting the Champions League.
"We really wanted to go to the final, we did our best and then this unnecessary mistake happened - I cannot explain it. I'm sorry... for my team and for you fans."
But Bayern's host of chances - not just in Madrid, but in the first leg in Munich last week ought to have made Ulreich's blunder completely irrelevant.
Mats Hummels was quick not to apportion blame on Ulreich.
"We still needed a third goal," the defender said. "Without that, there would still have been extra time. It's on us tonight. If you have the chances we had, you have to get to the final."
Still, Bayern could count themselves unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty and Real left-back Marcelo admitted as much afterwards.
The Brazilian blocked a shot from Kimmich in the penalty area at the end of the first half with the score at 1-1 but Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir gave a corner instead.
"It's a handball, it hit me on the hand and I think it's a penalty," Marcelo told reporters.
"If I say it didn't hit me, I'd be lying, but football is like that.
"I don't talk about referees, but it's clear that sometimes they go in your favour and other times against you but, whatever happens, you have to play football."
Zidane's decision to pick Benzema despite a poor run of form that had included only one goal in 12 games also proved to be a masterstroke.
And Real captain Sergio Ramos believes the pedigree of his team, who are chasing an unprecedented third Champions League trophy in a row, makes them favourites whoever they face.
"Real's DNA pushes you to fight until the end, we know how to stay together and suffer and that has taken us to the final. That is the soul of this team," he said.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES, REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN