- Real Madrid win third consecutive Champions League title
- 3-1 winners against Liverpool, Real Madrid have now lifted the trophy a record 13 times
- Los Blancos will once again travel to the Club World Cup to defend their crown
Kings of Europe for a 13th time. Real Madrid won a third successive UEFA Champions League title and will once again travel to the FIFA Club World Cup to defend their global crown. Los Blancos recorded a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday, with Welshman Gareth Bale inspiring his side to victory with a second-half brace – first finding the net with a magnificent overhead kick.
It could have all been so different for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds, with star man Mohamed Salah forced to leave the pitch in tears on 31 minutes after a clash with Sergio Ramos with the scoreline at 0-0. Ultimately, however, the occasion proved to be Real Madrid’s.
Frenchman Karim Benzema opened the scoring and while Sadio Mane bagged an equaliser just four minutes later, Bale’s double prevented a Liverpool comeback. FIFA.com looks back on a Champions League season in which Zinedine Zidane’s men were once again crowned continental kings.
What we learned
Spanish dominance continues
Spanish clubs have now been crowned kings of Europe for the last five seasons, with Los Blancos taking the honours in 2014, 2016, 2017 and again this year, while Barcelona did likewise in 2015. Spain now has 18 European Cup/Champions League triumphs to its name – five more than Italy and England.
Cristiano continues to break records
The 2017/18 Champions League proved to be yet another record-breaking campaign for Cristiano Ronaldo. Not only did Ronaldo top the tournament’s scoring chart for a sixth successive season, finishing at the summit this campaign with 15 goals, the Portugal star became the first player to win five Champions League titles. The 33-year-old now joins the likes of Alfredo Di Stefano, Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Costacurta on five Champions League/European Cup wins. Only Real Madrid legend Paco Gento (6) has lifted the European Cup more times than Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo's UEFA Champions League wins
- 2007/08: Manchester United
- 2013/14: Real Madrid
- 2015/16: Real Madrid
- 2016/17: Real Madrid
- 2017/18: Real Madrid
Though they suffered the agony of missing out on the Champions League trophy at the final hurdle, goal-hungry Liverpool certainly made their presence felt during the campaign. Klopp’s Reds scored 47 goals – with six coming in the play-offs – in this year’s Champions League, the outright most for a team in a single season in European competition. The formidable trident of Mohamed Salah (10), Sadio Mane (10) and Roberto Firmino (10) became the highest-scoring trio in Champions League history, surpassing the record of 28 previously set by Real Madrid’s Bale, Benzema and Ronaldo in 2013/14.
A breath-taking comeback
Roma pulled off one of the biggest shocks of the Champions League campaign in the quarter-finals in April. Barcelona had never failed to go through in a European competition once they had established a 4-1 lead, but the Italian giants staged a stunning comeback against Ernesto Valverde's side in the second leg, pulling off a 3-0 win with goals from Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 1984. It naturally sparked scenes of jubilation and ecstasy at the Stadio Olimpico.
Farewell to a legend
Barça’s Olimpico defeat at the hands of Roma was also four-time Champions League winner Andres Iniesta’s final European night. The midfield maestro, who left Barcelona for Japanese side Vissel Kobe last week, said he could not bring himself to play for a different European club. “For me, Barça is the best club in the world. This club has given me everything,” said Iniesta, when announcing his intention to leave Camp Nou. "I spoke to a lot of people – players, coaches – and I know what they want, but I tried to be honest with myself and the club. I have said I will never play against Barça, so I won't play in Europe." Iniesta made his Champions League debut in 2002 before going on to rack up a staggering 130 appearances in the competition.
5 - the number of times Real Madrid will have appeared at the FIFA Club World Cup when they run out in the United Arab Emirates this December. Los Blancos have won the competition three times - in 2014, 2016 and 2017 - and finished fourth in 2000. Should they retain their title in UAE again this year, they will become the outright most successful team in the tournament’s history. They are currently tied on three titles with arch-rivals Barcelona.
“Our achievement [on Saturday] is the most important thing – we have to congratulate the players because it's not at all easy to do this. There are no words to describe this. The amazing thing about this squad is that they don't have a ceiling. They are hungry for more and they've demonstrated that today.”
Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane, who became the first manager to win the European Cup in three successive seasons