Real Madrid may have won 33 Liga titles (more than any other Spanish club), 19 Copa del Rey titles, 3 Intercontinental Cups, 2 FIFA Club World Cups, and – to their fans’ pride and joy – 12 European Cup/UEFA Champions League titles, but the club’s greatness is only partly explained by the large number of resplendent trophies in their cabinet. For a complete picture of their glorious 115-year history, one must add unforgettable goals and play, mythical comebacks and legendary matches, featuring some of the most talented footballers the world has ever seen.
In just his second season (and first full campaign) at the helm of Los Blancos, Zinedine Zidane has continued to make his mark on the team. While in 2016, after only six months in the hotseat, he guided his charges to an 11th European crown and capped off the year with victories in the UEFA Super Cup in Norway and the Club World Cup in Japan, in 2017 he steered them to their first Liga triumph in five seasons and helped them become the first team to claim back-to-back Champions League titles. In fact, it took a mere 20 European matches for Zidane to capture two Champions League crowns – a new record. The Frenchman’s astute management of a star-studded squad, featuring a rotation policy that enabled key figures to rest at crucial times, was a critical factor in the team hitting peak form at the end of the season.
Following their latest European success, Real Madrid, who are traditionally expected to win every competition they enter, can still pick up three additional trophies this year: the UEFA Super Cup, the Spanish Super Cup and, most importantly, the Club World Cup, where they could again make history, as no team has ever emerged victorious from the tournament two years running. In addition, if they were to secure the global crown in the United Arab Emirates, Los Merengues would equal Barcelona’s haul of three Club World Cups (won in 2009, 2011 and 2015)
Facts and figures
Alfredo Di Stefano, Ferenc Puskas, Ricardo Zamora, Francisco Gento, Ulrich Stielike, Hugo Sanchez, Juan Gomez, Jorge Valdano, Emilio Butragueno, Michel, Ivan Zamorano, Raul, Ronaldo, David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, Fabio Cannavaro and Iker Casillas.
Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Isco, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.
Real got off to a sluggish start in the Champions League, drawing three times in Group F (twice with Borussia Dortmund and once with Legia Warsaw) and finishing second, but they were unstoppable once they reached the knockout stages. In the Round of 16, the Spanish side comfortably eliminated Napoli, winning 3-1 home and away, while in the quarter-finals they saw off the hefty challenge of Bayern Munich (6-3 on aggregate). In the semi-finals, after defeating rivals Atletico Madrid 3-0 at home, they suffered their sole defeat of the competition, a 2-1 second-leg reverse that did not prevent them from continuing their march to the final. In Cardiff, Zidane’s players tore down Juventus’ defensive wall, which had only conceded three Champions League goals up to that point, but would be breached four times on the night. While Mario Mandzukic briefly gave the Italians hope with a sensational equaliser in the first half, Madrid surged to a 4-1 victory in the second period through goals from Casemiro, Cristiano Ronaldo (his second of the night), and Marco Asensio.
The numbers game
12 – The number of European Cups/Champions Leagues Real Madrid have won, more than any other team. The Spaniards now have a five-trophy advantage over their nearest challengers on the all-time winners’ list, AC Milan.