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Sunday, June 23, 2024  
16 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Real Madrid aim to add to Champions League legend before Mbappe arrival

Real Madrid consider themselves favourites to beat Borussia Dortmund on Saturday
Real Madrid’s Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti (R) and Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior (C) are adding to Madrid’s trophy cabinet. AFP
Real Madrid’s Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti (R) and Brazilian forward Vinicius Junior (C) are adding to Madrid’s trophy cabinet. AFP

Not only because the German side are shock finalists, but simply because the kings of Europe would feel the same way regardless of the opposition.

Another triumph on the biggest stage would be the perfect showcase of their power and prestige to superstar striker Kylian Mbappe, set to join from Paris Saint-Germain in the summer.

Madrid play with a belief that they will prevail, but also with the humility to know that to do so requires flexibility in the ‘how’.

They demonstrated as much in the quarter-finals against champions Manchester City, keeping their backs to the wall and squeezing through on penalties.

They delivered a trademark last-gasp sucker-punch on Bayern Munich to reach the final after falling behind, with substitute Joselu netting a late brace for Carlo Ancelotti’s team.

That is precisely when comeback experts Madrid strike – just when opponents start to believe that they can’t do it, that they are finally defeated, that they are out.

“We’re not thinking about whether we’re favourites, but about playing against a team that deserves it too,” Madrid coach Ancelotti told reporters Monday.

“We know that we will have to suffer and fight like in all finals.”

Madrid have established an astonishing European hegemony, with five triumphs in the last decade.

The next closest side to Los Blancos in overall victories is AC Milan with seven, the most recent of those 17 years ago.

Ancelotti pointed out one of the principal reasons for Madrid’s dominance – the club’s president.

“Here there is a captain and he’s called Florentino Perez,” said the Italian earlier in May. “The rest of us are sailors.”

The chief has been the constant in Madrid’s most recent era of success, although their love affair with the European Cup started long before his reign.

The competition began in the 1950s, when Santiago Bernabeu was the club’s chief, and Madrid took to it like a duck to water.

They won the first five editions of the tournament, between 1956 and 1960.

“Madrid’s history is born in the 50s, in this competition,” said Ancelotti.

“It’s a competition where you concentrate more, you are more focussed.”

Madrid added a sixth in 1966 but had to wait more than 30 years for the seventh, achieved in 1998 after beating Juventus.

The eighth soon followed, in 2000 with a comfortable victory over Valencia, shortly before Perez became Madrid’s president.

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Champions League

Kylian Mbappe

Real Madrid