TNT Sports Reload - Episode 13Oct 10
Victory would pen another iconic chapter in Los Blancos’ never-ending romance with Europe’s top club competition, seeing their record-setting trophy haul in the Champions League move to double that of AC Milan – the tournament’s second most successful side on seven.
Their fabled history in the Champions League may at times weigh heavy with the lofty expectations of the Madridista but over the past decade, Real’s European success has almost become irrepressible.
“The history of this club is very important,” Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti told Steve McManaman during an exclusive chat with BT Sport this week.
This history of this club is very important
- Carlo Ancelotti
“And the sense of belonging of the player when they put on this shirt of this club. This is the huge difference when compared to other teams.
“The quality of the players, the experience they have. In the last eight years, most of these players will have played in five finals of the Champions League!”
Four trophies in five seasons between 2014 and 2018 elevated Madrid’s legacy in this competition far beyond any other we’ve ever seen – but it also helped extend a remarkable vein of form by Spanish sides competing at the top level.
Since 2001, Spanish teams have played non-Spanish teams 16 times in major European finals; the Spanish sides have won all 16 finals.
That staggering statistic, identified by European football writer Colin Millar, illustrates the unmatched pedigree of La Liga’s representatives over the past two decades – and perhaps makes uncomfortable reading for Liverpool fans ahead of Saturday’s final.
However, the Reds were one of the last sides to defeat Spanish opposition in a European final, triumphing over Alaves in a memorable 5-4 victory for the UEFA Cup back in 2001.
Weeks later, Valencia would be beaten on penalties against Bayern Munich in the Champions League final at the San Siro in Milan – the defeat which proved the catalyst for La Liga’s stunning dominance over the rest Europe since.
In other years, Madrid have almost breezed through to the tournament finale, their name all but etched on the trophy before a ball was kicked in the group stage.
But this year, the Spanish side have had to fight tooth and nail to book their place in the most glamorous game in club football, staging some remarkable comebacks to keep the dream of 14 alive.
Get set for the Champions League final on BT Sport
In the Round of 16, Madrid trailed 2-0 on aggregate to Paris Saint-Germain with just 30 minutes before Karim Benzema scored a stunning quickfire hat-trick to dispatch the French giants from the knockout stages.
The comeback heroics continued in the quarter-finals against Chelsea as Madrid found their 3-1 first leg advantage swiftly wiped out by three quick Chelsea goals at the Bernabeu, needing Rodrygo to level the scores in normal time before Benzema stepped up yet again to seal the win in extra-time.
And nobody needs reminding of the incredible scenes in the semi-finals as Real scored two goals against Manchester City deep in stoppage time to level the tie 5-5 on aggregate before – you guessed it – Benzema slotted the match-winning penalty in extra-time.
On their mesmerising run to the final, Madrid have scored two or more goals in nine of their last ten Champions League matches, including the last five games in a row.
The spirit in Ancelotti’s side is evident in their willingness to fight until the very end; Madrid have scored 35% of their goals after the 76th minute in this year’s competition.
“We are strong. The mentality aspect [of Real Madrid] is very good, we moved on and reached the final because of our strong mentality, our personality and the experience that this team has,” Ancelotti added.
“I cannot say it was luck. We were really close to going out but the relationship that these players have with this competition helped us to reach the final.”
Can Madrid forge further bonds with the competition the club holds dearest - or will Liverpool break the Spanish stronghold in European finals?
Don’t miss Liverpool vs Real Madrid in the Champions League final, exclusively live on BT Sport 1HD from 6pm this Saturday night. Click here for our complete viewing guide to find out all the ways you can watch along.